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- Carson Derrow
Wawa Franchise: How to Open, Cost, Fees & Price
Wawa Franchise

Image Credit – https://www.wawa.com/

Wawa Food Market, also known as Wawa, is a well-known convenience store that offers freshly prepared meals and beverages. It specializes in soups, snacks, made-to-order subs, freshly brewed coffee, hot breakfast sandwiches, and specialty drinks. 

In 1803, in New Jersey, Wawa was founded as an iron foundry. However, the company switched to producing dairy products in 1902 in Pennsylvania’s Wawa region, giving the business its name. The first Wawa food market opened in 1964. Since 1902, it has expanded to over 950 locations around the country. They are located in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC along the Mid-Atlantic coast. However, the business has lately opened an office in Florida. Over 750 of these establishments also sell gasoline, enabling clients to refuel their cars quickly and get fresh, personalized food and drink. Its stores are almost all open twenty-four hours a day. They are, therefore, a practical choice for a wide range of clients. Additionally, these shops are well known for offering surcharge-free ATMs.

Wawa is widely known for numerous things, but one of them is the chain’s dedication to the client experience. Wawa frequently receives favorable customer ratings and is known for its tidy, well-stocked stores and welcoming staff.

Many consider Wawa’s food selections superior to competing for convenience store brands. Additionally, this chain offers widespread availability throughout the Northeastern United States, which makes it a practical option for many customers.

Where is the biggest Wawa store?

You might be surprised to learn that Pennsylvania, in the United States, is home to the largest Wawa. This enormous convenience shop offers everything from made-to-order meals to all your favorite snacks and beverages, this enormous convenience shop is a whopping 10,000 square feet in size. Check it out if you’re ever in the area!

The Wawa franchise

A fantastic option to get started in the convenience store industry is to buy a Wawa franchise. It provides franchisees with a simple, dependable source of revenue with low overhead expenses, a well-known brand name, and the know-how of an accomplished staff.

Aspiring business owners considering joining the Wawa franchise family can anticipate fees, profit potential, total investment needs, training opportunities, operational limits, renewal terms, and return on investment expectations.

We’ll go over all of these specifics in this post so you can decide whether opening a Wawa franchise is the best course of action for your company. Continue reading to discover more about what it takes to run a Wawa store! 

Also Read – Top 15 Most Profitable Franchises to Own In 2023

Can you own a Wawa franchise?

Wawa has been a privately held company since its founding in 1964. Since that time, the corporation has owned every Wawa location. The Wawa franchise has piqued the interest of many people. Although Wawa is not currently offering franchise opportunities, it may do so in the future.

Unfortunately, you cannot own the franchise. The business website has everything you need to learn about Wawa Franchise. Fill out the form on the website and submit it to the administrator with your inquiry. They’ll respond to your query.

However, potential franchisees who want to investigate franchise opportunities in the convenience store sector should evaluate similar companies, like 7-Eleven, which we will address below. This post will skim over some of the financial data that Wawa released and calculate the anticipated franchise fee from similar businesses in the convenience store sector if it were to be franchised.

Is Wawa profitable?

In 2021, WAWA did turn a profit. WAWA credited strong sales and cost-cutting strategies for its profitability. The company expects to continue investing in its stores and extending its product offerings to drive growth in the future. From $9 billion in 2016 and $10 billion in 2018, Wawa reported $11 billion in annual revenue in 2020. If the income were evenly distributed, each of its 950 locations would have brought in around $11.58 million. Convenience stores in America earned an average of $4 million per year, according to a 2018 industry report. This indicates that the average Wawa store generated much more money than the typical convenience store. The rising annual income of Wawa and the company’s above-average per-store revenues show that its recent ability to sell products has been exceptional.

Alternatives to a Wawa franchise 

There are a lot of options available in the convenience store industry. Let’s look at some of the alternatives you can own instead of a Wawa franchise.

Also Read – 18 Cheapest Franchises to Open in 2023(Updated): Low-Cost Franchises

7-Eleven

When Joe C. Thompson started selling milk, bread, and eggs throughout his stores in 1927, 7-Eleven’s history officially began. Up until that point, they solely sold ice blocks. Joe Thompson soon had the opportunity to acquire Southland Ice Company thanks to the expanding success of the store’s invention and afterward changed its name to Southland Corporation. This business specializes in building convenience stores throughout the state. The number of locations using the new store format had considerably expanded by 1946.

Due to their success, the stores opened seven days a week from 7 am to 11 pm. Hence, the name of the store. After the Southland Corporation acquired an additional 126 licensed Speedee Mart convenience stores in California, franchising was launched in 1964. These business models are incorporated into the 7-Eleven business plan. Currently, 7-Eleven has more than 9,000 locations across the country. Added units are spread among multiple continents, including Europe, Asia, and Oceania. 7-Eleven’s main office is in Dallas, Texas. Currently, it is led by Joseph DePinto, who has served as the company’s President and CEO since December 2005.

An estimated $53,600 to $1,163,000 in total investment is needed to start (or take over) a 7-Eleven franchise. The upfront expenses of opening a 7-Eleven store include the fees listed below.

Based on the expected annual sales for franchise stores of 7-Eleven, it will take approximately nine years to return your investment at an average 5% profit margin. Compared to other franchise opportunities, this one is longer. You may not make a 5% profit margin, which would delay seeing a return on your investment.

You can generate money as the franchise holder of several 7-Eleven locations. Retail Goods & Services Industry owners enjoy an average multiple of.38 for businesses with over $5 million in annual sales. Therefore, the total sales would be $10,000,000 if you owned five 7-Eleven businesses. The going rate for that is $3,800,000. This is more than the $3,041,500 initial investment.

7-Eleven has a strong market position and solid financial standing in the USA. We advise speaking to at least 3-5 7-Eleven shop owners in your area to get the financials since they no longer provide franchise-specific financials. We also suggest doing that because different regions may be unable to support a 7-Eleven. Additionally, the average values may not accurately depict your area.

Circle K

A multinational chain of convenience stores, Circle K Stores, Inc. was established in El Paso, Texas, in 1951. Before being acquired by Canada’s Alimentation Couche-Tard in 2003, the company had filed for bankruptcy protection in 1990 and had been owned by several different parties. As of February 2020, Circle K operated 2,380 locations under franchise agreements internationally, in addition to 9,799 stores in North America (mainly the US and Canada), 2,697 stores in Europe, and 2,697 stores globally.

Circle K owns and runs locations in 47 states within the United States (the three states without Circle Ks are Utah, Wisconsin, and Nebraska). Arizona, Ohio, California, Florida, Colorado, Georgia, North Carolina, Illinois, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Texas have the highest concentration of Circle K locations.

For a newly constructed Circle K Business, the total investment required to open for business ranges from $2,134,250 to $4,718,250. Assuming you decide to run an optional car wash as part of the Franchised Business, the estimates range from $979,250 to $3,461,250 if you convert an existing convenience store and a gas station into a Circle K Business. In 2021, the average Circle K net sales amount will be $1,323,683. 

Speedway

Gas station and convenience store chain Speedway (SuperAmerica) has locations mainly in the Midwest of the United States. They started in 1998. The business’s main office is in Enon, Ohio. The Speedway brand is under the Marathon Petroleum umbrella. Over 2,700 Speedway locations can be found in 21 states. Numerous services, such as gas, car washes, ATMs, restrooms, and food, are available to consumers.

Additionally, the business offers apparel, including T-shirts, hats, and other accessories. The cost of gas at Speedway is typically less than that of its rivals. The company attracts customers trying to save money on gas with its numerous discounts and promotions. When seeking petrol, snacks, and other necessities while driving, Speedway is an easy alternative. It is simple to locate a Speedway nearby because of the company’s diverse geographic presence. It’s a fantastic option for drivers on a tight budget because of its affordable pricing. 

The Pantry Inc

Based in Cary, North Carolina, The Pantry, Inc. was a chain of publicly held convenience stores that also ran Kangaroo Express outlets. Sam Wornom and Truby Proctor, Jr. established The Pantry in 1967 in Sanford, North Carolina. It was the biggest independently owned and run chain of convenience stores in the Southeast. Through numerous acquisitions, The Pantry swiftly grew from the late 1980s into the 2000s. It was announced in 2008 that all Pantry locations would adopt Kangaroo Express as their primary operating banner. The business relocated its corporate offices from Sanford, North Carolina, to Cary, North Carolina, in 2009.

The Pantry gave your body and car energy if you’ve ever driven to Disney World or through the Carolinas on business. Aside from Kangaroo Express, the company also operates stores under the names Bean Street Coffee, Celeste, and Aunt M’s. Branded fuel is offered with names like ExxonMobil, Marathon, and BP. The shops provide a variety of goods, including cigarettes, drinks, candy, gasoline, and periodicals. Alimentation Couche-Tard of Canada paid $860 million to acquire the business in 2015.

The Pantry franchise is expected to cost between $450,000 and $600,000 to open. The license to operate a business under The Pantry trademark costs a one-time franchise fee of $40,000.

Casey’s General Store

Casey’s General Stores Inc (Casey’s) is a chain of independent convenience stores. The company’s product line includes grocery, food, and non-food goods. The menu options include pizza, doughnuts, dairy products, sandwiches, and beverages. Health and cosmetic items, as well as automobile supplies, are among Casey’s non-food offerings. The business offers convenience products like beer, water, soft drinks, and ice in addition to self-serve fuel sales. It provides services to people of smaller communities through general and convenience stores. In the US, the company has activities in Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota. The US city of Ankeny, Iowa, is home to Casey’s corporate headquarters.

The estimated investment needed to launch Casey’s franchise is between $500k and $1m. The initial franchise price for Casey’s franchise is $60,000. This sum includes the license charge for using Casey’s trademark in commercial operations.

Conclusion

Wawa locations cannot be franchised. But the general public can also purchase other franchises for convenience stores. Although you cannot open a Wawa franchise location, you should look at the options we have provided.

Wawa is still a privately held company, and the owners have yet to make plans to franchise the locations. The business recently revealed specific revenue-related financial data. It demonstrates how strong and growing Wawa’s capacity to sell goods in its stores has become in recent years. We hope the information provided above has been helpful. 

The post Wawa Franchise: How to Open, Cost, Fees & Price appeared first on Entrepreneurship Life.

- Carson Derrow
The Evolution of The Smart Ticketing System

Fare collection has been essential in the running of transport operators since the very beginning – if riders want a journey, they typically need to pay a fare.

That being said, as the world makes strides in technological advancements, so has the way transport companies approach ticketing systems.

In this article, we’ll explain how smart ticketing systems have evolved in the transportation industry, and why they’re the best option for your organization.

How has Smart Ticketing evolved?

Smart ticketing operates in a similar manner to the standard process of buying a paper ticket – riders pay a fare, then use your service – except through a more advanced, accessible, and efficient method.

With the use of automated fare collection, you can now receive fares from riders through swift, digital transactions.

In more traditional forms of fare collection, you’d need a physical machine to exchange cash for a physical ticket. Alternatively, riders would need to pay an attendant at a till.

However, with an innovative smart ticketing system, fares can be completed digitally and cash-free, and with every transaction, you can have fast processing and validation for your business.

Automated fare collection allows a variety of different payment types to give riders flexibility. For instance, it can enable contactless payments through digital wallets or smartphones – such as Apple Pay.

What are the Benefits of a Smart Ticketing System?

By implementing a smart ticketing system, you can bring a wide variety of benefits to you and to your customers, including:

1) More Efficient Payment

With smart ticketing systems, you can create a more efficient way of completing payments for both you and your riders.

When a fare needs paying, riders will have access to a clear and accessible platform that shows them available fares to choose from. Once they’ve made their payment, they can instantly use their ticket to board your service and be on their way.

Once the fare has been paid, the transaction is executed with the utmost efficiency. You’ll have fast access to payment information, and the cloud-native software will also secure the sensitive data involved in the transaction.

On top of this, it’s cash-free, so no need to process any physical money.

2) Accurate and Insightful Data

Smart ticketing can also offer a range of useful data for transport operators, so not only do you know how fares are being paid, but how effective the experience is for riders.

You’ll have a well-organized structure for your fare collection, where you can see things like the revenue collected over a certain time period, how much you’re receiving from each form of transport or each route, and which times of the day are most profitable.

This helps your company stay ahead of the curve and prepare for an efficient service at all times of the day, to accommodate riders in peak and quiet times.

3) Sleek and Versatile Devices

When implementing smart ticketing systems, the devices used are both elegant and sleek, to create a streamlined process of paying for and riding transit.

The devices used to accept payments can be attached to a variety of different places. For instance, they can be set up in vehicles, mounted on poles, or stationed on the platform – whichever location will give the best rider experience.

This means no interruptions, queues, or awkward flows of public traffic when using your automated fare collection system.

If you’re a transit agency or transit operator looking to significantly improve how you collect and manage fares, then smart ticketing systems are the ideal next step in improving your transportation services.

The post The Evolution of The Smart Ticketing System appeared first on Entrepreneurship Life.

- Carson Derrow
Best Bachelor’s Degrees for Small Business Owners

You launched your startup knowing that your idea was strong, and now you have a small business that seems to be thriving. Yet, if you have limited experience as a business leader, you might not know how to manage your business growth and ensure success into the future. Many small business owners resolve to return to school to hone their business knowledge and skill — but which degree program will provide you with the acumen you need to guide your budding business on the right path?

Here are a few of the best bachelor’s degrees for current small business owners looking to improve their credentials and achieve greater business success.

Business Administration

There are several levels of business administration degrees, from two-year associate degrees that offer basic instruction on business management to doctoral programs who function as executives for some of the world’s largest enterprises. Small business owners like you would benefit most from a bachelor’s degree in this field, which provides a comprehensive overview of business fields and topics, so that you can manage all aspects of your business as it grows. 

Business Management

Similar to a business administration degree, a business management degree provides knowledge and skill in many of the fields required for business leaders to succeed. However, business management programs tend to focus on the leadership aspect of management, which means students pursuing this degree become experts in activities like identifying top talent, understanding employee motivation, organizing teams and generally managing a workforce.

Business Technology

Following the COVID pandemic, technology has become an essential component of business strategy. Even small, local businesses need to understand how to leverage technology effectively to build audiences, maintain engagement and make the best possible decisions to drive success. In addition to equipping a business owner with fundamental tech acumen, business technology degrees often provide information about tech laws and regulations that businesses must follow as they adopt new tech systems and practices.

Finance

A business leader’s ability to understand finance is often what determines a small business’s future. Knowledge and skill in finance will help a small business grow, as leaders will gain the ability to analyze risk effectively and deploy strategies likely to result in success. You can pursue an online degree in finance while you manage your small business, and you can begin utilizing strategic applications of finance as you learn them.

Accounting

Research shows that roughly half of small businesses fail within the first five years, and more than 80 percent of those failures are a direct result of cash flow problems. Skill and knowledge in the field of accounting can help business leaders maintain greater control over their income and expenses, which will aid them in analyzing financial risks. Often, accounting courses are components of other business degree programs, but some business leaders benefit from a focused accounting degree.

Economics

Though often conflated with finance, economics is the study of the allocation of resources, on both micro and macro scales. Business leaders can benefit from an economics degree by gaining greater understanding of the behavior of economics affecting their organization. Experience in economics can also be valuable as the field improves one’s ability to predict outcomes based on available resources and historic trends.

Marketing

A small business is only as good as its marketing, especially now that the internet is blurring the lines between local and global competition. Because there are so many marketing channels for small businesses to balance, a marketing degree might be useful in delivering greater knowledge and skill in this field. Often, marketing programs also provide insight into brand management, product management and consumer behavior, all of which can make marketing an easier task for small businesses to accomplish.

Communication

Communication is the one skill that every professional on Earth should work to master — and yet, so many business owners fail to have even passed proficiency in it. A bachelor’s degree in communication offers opportunities for you to practice communicating in a variety of environments and using diverse communication tools. It might also help you hone skills like public speaking and business writing, which can be useful as a small business owner.

You don’t need to rely only on your limited experience to guide you as a small business owner. By gaining a bachelor’s degree, you can ensure the growth and success of your small business — and any businesses you launch into the future.

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- Olivia
What Is a Heat Gun and How Can It Help You?

A heat gun is a tool that emits hot air at temperatures of up to 1000°F. Used mainly in construction and industrial applications, heat guns are versatile tools that can be used for a variety of tasks. In this blog, we will discuss the uses of heat guns, how they work, and why you should consider investing in one.

Uses of Heat Guns

Heat guns are primarily used for shrinking or drying out materials such as vinyl wrap or fabric. They can also be used to remove paint and varnish, dry out wet electrical components, thaw frozen pipes, soften adhesives, and bond two materials together. In addition to these practical uses, heat guns can also be used for DIY projects such as crafting jewelry and creating art with melted wax or resin.

How Do Heat Guns Work?

Heat guns work by using an electric heating element to generate hot air which is then expelled from the nozzle of the gun. The temperature range is typically between 100°F – 800°F but some higher end models can reach up to 1000°F. The temperature is adjustable so that you can tailor your project accordingly. For example, if you’re removing paint from a wall you would want to set the temperature low enough so that it doesn’t damage the wall but high enough that it effectively removes the paint.

Why Invest in a Heat Gun?

Heat guns are relatively inexpensive tools that offer great versatility when it comes to DIY projects and repair jobs around the house. If you’re looking for a tool that can do everything from shrink wrapping materials to removing paint from wood surfaces, then investing in a heat gun could be a great choice for you. They are also lightweight and easy to transport so you don’t have to worry about lugging around heavy equipment on your next home improvement project.

Why Choose Aventools for Buying a digital Heat Gun?

Aventools is a leading online retailer for digital heat guns and other tools. We offer a wide selection of high-quality products at competitive prices so that you can find the perfect tool for your needs. Our customer service team is available to answer any questions you may have, and our fast-shipping times mean that you’ll get your new heat gun as soon as possible. Invest in a digital heat gun from Aventools today and make sure that your next home improvement or DIY project is a success!

Aventools also offers a wide variety of accessories for our digital heat guns, including replacement heat gun nozzles, stands, and carrying cases. Browse our selection of accessories today to find the perfect addition for your heat gun! With Aventools, you can rest assured that you’re getting high quality products at an unbeatable price.

Conclusion:

A heat gun is an invaluable tool for any serious DIYer or professional contractor alike who needs an efficient way to dry out materials or remove stubborn substances like paint or varnish from surfaces. They offer great versatility due to their adjustable temperature settings so they can be tailored according to whatever project you may have in mind. Investing in a quality heat gun could save you time, money, and hassle on your next home improvement project!

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- Olivia
Top Ways a Business Can Deal with Negative Online Reviews

Did you know that 85% of all customers look for negative reviews first? This is mainly to make an informed purchase decision. Further, 94% of customers say that they might avoid a business solely based on unsatisfactory feedbacks. These are often the first interaction an individual can have with your brand. You might end up losing a significant portion of your potential buyers every time something defamatory against you pops up on Google. It is, therefore, necessary to manage your online reputation well. ORM is a function of customer service, public relations and marketing combined which comes with major benefits like better business perception and increased visibility.

Online reviews are the ‘word-of-mouth’ marketing of the 21st century. Proper reviews ensure a ‘better-than-average’ customer experience. Or else, you have to bear the brunt of damaged company reputation and hindered sales for years. This is especially nightmarish if you have a millennial customer base. Studies found that 91% of people belonging to the age group of 18-34 trust online reviews as much as personal suggestions. The good news is that there are ample ways to handle negative reviews in a way that does not impact your business.

1) The Legal Way

Information is protected by copyright or trademarks through federal registration. Know that the publisher, and not the platform on which the review is posted, is the responsible party before picking one of the several legal grounds on which you can make a case of content removal. But the platforms have the right to remove offensive content regardless of the writer’s approval. All hosting services like Google Plus or Yelp have rules to regulate what they are posting. So, you must address the complaint and specify how the post might tarnish the name of your brand.

For example, the content could be racist, discriminatory, hateful, bullying or harassing. These are mandatory to be subject to removal. But make sure to gather supporting documents and facts. Get a lawyer involved who can combine business experience and legal expertise to offer the most practical solution.

2) Respond Quickly

You are only human, and mistakes and flaws are natural. But not addressing reviews means the company is not ready to take accountability for its actions. So, try to express your humility by sincere apologies and explanations. It’s best to not retaliate. Keep a mindset that ‘customer is always right even when they are not.’ This can limit the damage caused. Online readers willknow that you do not shy away from taking responsibility. It is a good way to show that customers matter to you, and you are trying your best to improve. This reflects the brand culture of ‘humanity’ and can reduce the chances of losing business.

3) Consider a Follow Up Mail

Keep a tool in place that notifies you every time a review is posted. Now contact your unhappy customer, use their first name and ask why they were dissatisfied with the product to make them feel heard. Try not to pressurize or threaten them to change the feedback or remove it. This is a wrong approach and might turn an unpleasant experience into a bigger headache. Instead, collect insight into the episode and work to resolve their issues. Try to offer free shipping, coupon codes or a basic discount the next time. It can change their mind in a positive way and stay loyal to your brand without switching to competitors.

4) Push Positive Reviews

One negative review can be overpowered with a few4–5-star rating reviews. Instead, pick your old buyers and dish out swags or gift cards in exchange for impressive testimonials. They are more likely to leave a 5-star post which can save your business profit from getting derailed. Further, you can also do the same with the negative post publisher. Solve their issues and ask them politely if they can reconsider their review. This might offer the best possible customer experience and help deliver a consistent level of excellence.

Online brand safety and management along with a positive reputation is a significant driver of revenue and growth. It also helps meet customer needs and helps them set expectations from your business. You are less likely to feel ‘unfairly targeted’ and stay honest and open with your audience base.

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- Olivia
Why Networking is Crucial for Real Estate Investors These Days

The real estate sector is lucrative; however, to succeed, you need to understand how to interact with different people to improve your chances of success in the industry; this is why you need to network with other real estate investors. Networking allows you to establish friendships and connections with different local investors. Your business will gain significantly from networking.

Let’s delve into why networking is important for real estate investors.

1) Learning to Interact

Are you new to the real estate sector? Then there’s a likelihood that you’re afraid of asking relevant questions, and your ability to communicate with real estate sellers and buyers will be affected. Yet, it is important to improve your ability to negotiate. Fortunately, networking ensures you have the confidence to ask the right questions while overcoming your fears. Remember, interactions play a significant role in the life of an investor.

2) Access to Great Deals

Unlike purchasing stocks, acquiring property can be overwhelming and complex. The main focus is on finding great deals. Besides checking the public listings online, you can get great deals through networks comprising real estate investors.

Such a network ensures you’ll have a good relationship with attorneys, contractors, realtors, and property managers. Such professionals will play a key role in ensuring the transaction has taken place smoothly. If you plan on acquiring property in different locations, you should ensure your network has a property manager to help manage your rental units. Your network will help you find the right buyer when you sell your property.

3) Saving Costs

You need to seek mentorship to learn how to invest in real estate. You can pay a real estate mentor. However, when you join a network comprising connected investors for real estate, you’ll gain access to the information you need free of charge. You’ll also get to interact with real estate investors in your state.

Real estate investors are usually willing to share the knowledge they possess. Thus, it is important to interact with as many investors as possible to boost your chances of success. Besides, you may form a partnership with an experienced real estate investor.

4) Visibility

Besides appearing physically at networking events, you must ensure your real estate venture has an online presence on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook. All your social media profiles should appear professional, and you’ll attract numerous clients.

How to Build Strong Connections with Real Estate Investors

When building a network in the real estate sector, some tips you should consider include the following:

1) Interact with the Right Team of Professionals

It is important to assemble a team in the real estate sector. It should comprise trustworthy and competent people if you want your business to succeed. In the real estate sector, you’re only as good as the people surrounding you.

Besides the professionals who collaborate and work with, you can rely on the relationships you’ve forged with companies and people in the local community. Connecting with other businesses that complement yours is an important networking tool. Your main goal is to identify a team that can refer clients to you and vice versa.

2) Attend Industry Events and Conferences

You should attend conferences and real estate sector events to engage with professionals from your industry. Such meetings offer an opportunity to learn about innovations in the real estate sector. Also, you’ll have access to new market information. If possible, network outside your industry. If you’ve been working and living in one area long, you might be friends with other local realtors. Expand your real estate network by interacting with influencers from other regions.

Final Thoughts

Networking is important in real estate if you want to succeed. When you’re in the right network, you’ll interact with various service providers, meaning your transactions will take place easily. Also, you’ll have access to more information and knowledge about the real estate sector.

Beginner real estate investors can develop strong connections and relationships by networking at industry events, joining local real estate investment groups, reaching out to experienced investors for mentorship, and consistently showing a strong work ethic and commitment to the industry.

Building a strong reputation and creating mutually beneficial partnerships can also help. Additionally, being respectful and professional in all interactions and open to learning from others in the industry is important.

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- Olivia
Top Benefits of Getting a Samsung Smart Fridge

Technology is changing at a rapid pace and while many of us have invested in the latest smartphones, not everyone has a smart fridge yet. If you’ve been thinking about getting a smart fridge or aren’t convinced one is for you, then you’ve come to the right place. This blog will introduce you to some of the main reasons lots of people have made the switch to a Samsung smart fridge. It could really make all the difference to the way you live your life.

Reputable and Reliable

Samsung is something of a household name, so you can feel secure in the knowledge that you’re getting a good quality product when buying one of their smart fridges. Some of their fridges may even come with a warranty, so always check with the retailer you go to before you make a purchase. However, if something does go wrong that isn’t covered by a warranty or guarantee, you can easily find replacement parts for Samsung refrigerators, which will make the repair process much smoother.

Easy Food Management

Some Samsung smart fridges have cameras inside them to allow you to see exactly what’s in your fridge no matter where you are. This can help you waste less food, as you’ll be less likely to buy groceries you already have. It can also make you less likely to buy takeaways, as you’ll be able to see if you have enough food to make a meal before you get home.

Some smart fridges may even automatically restock themselves. Once they register that your regular ingredients have run low, they can place an order online and have the food delivered to your door. If you often like to eat the same things each week or know you’re going to be meal-prepping your food in advance, this could be a great option for you.

Lots of Settings

Most people who don’t have a smart fridge just accept that their fridge has one mode of functioning and that’s it. Lots of Samsung fridges allow you to customize the way your fridge works. For example, if you like brighter fridge lighting, or perhaps you want no lighting at all to save energy, your Samsung fridge may be able to accommodate this. You should also have more control over the temperature of your fridge. Most of us probably don’t know the optimal temperature for the foods we store, but Samsung just might. If you’re storing a lot of cheese, for example, your fridge may have a setting just for this, helping you to keep your food good for longer.

Energy Efficient

Saving money is something that people all around the world are thinking about and your Samsung fridge can help you achieve this goal. Like many smart fridges, your Samsung fridge likely boasts a much better energy-efficiency rating than some of its more traditional counterparts. However, you should always make sure this is the case before making a purchase, as even smart fridges can vary in their energy consumption.

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- Olivia
Small Business Loans: Types of Financing and How to Qualify
Financial loans

Small business loans can help your company survive the start-up phase, avoid cash crunches, or scale up for growth in 2023. A variety of small business financing products are available from both conventional and online lenders. The wide range of available options is designed to meet the needs of all types of businesses, from small start-ups to large corporations, including loans for businesses with no credit.

In this guide, we’ll cover the basics of finding small business financing. We’ll review the different types of loans available and their benefits. Then we’ll explain how to qualify and what you’ll need to apply for financing.

Types of Small Business Loans

Small business loan options include various products designed to meet different needs. Here are some of the most common:

Term Loans

Term loans are arrangements where you receive cash that must be repaid with interest over a fixed amount of time, known as the loan term. Repayment term lengths range from short-term loans with terms of a year or less to long-term loans with terms of five years or more.

Short-term loans average around $20,000, while long-term loans may extend hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in financing. Repayment agreements may use fixed or variable interest rates.

Business Lines of Credit

Business lines of credit work let you draw funds from an account with a set limit. You can spend up to your limit, and the money you repay becomes available again to spend. You can use your account by making purchases with a card, writing a check, or taking a cash advance.

Limits typically fall between $10,000 to $100,000 but can be higher. You pay interest on the amount you spend. Interest is higher for cash advances. Some lines are unsecured, meaning you don’t have to put up collateral, or secured, where you put up collateral in return for a higher limit or better rate.

Business Credit Cards

Business credit cards let you borrow up to a designated limit. You repay what you borrow at interest, with funds becoming available to spend again after you repay them. Limits may range from $1,000 or less to $50,000 or more.

Benefits of Business Loans

Business loans provide invaluable benefits, allowing companies to:

Finance start-up expansion while trying to establish a sustainable cash flow Cover cash-flow gap projections Survive slow-downs Capitalize on expansion opportunities Repair or replace outdated facilities or equipment Refinance high-interest debt

These benefits make business loans an important resource for effective financial planning and cash-flow management.

How to Qualify for Small Business Loans

Qualifying conditions vary by product and lender. Lenders consider criteria such as:

Your monthly or annual revenue, documented by bank or tax records Years your company has been in business Business and personal credit score

Certain loan products may have additional requirements. You may need to provide more extensive financial documentation, financial projections, a business plan, collateral, or a personal guarantee.

In general, the stronger your cash flow and the higher your credit score, the better your chance of qualifying. If you can’t qualify for one lender or product, you may still qualify for an alternative. Some providers even specialize in loans for businesses with no credit history. Online financing solutions for small businesses that use technology can help match you to lenders and products that fit your qualifying criteria.

Get the Small Business Financing You Need

Small business loans can set your financial planning on a track for success. Use the tips shared here to help you find the right type of loan product for you and prepare your application to get the funding you need to succeed.

The post Small Business Loans: Types of Financing and How to Qualify appeared first on Entrepreneurship Life.

- Carson Derrow
Reduce Accounting and Compliance Risks with a Trusted Partner in Mexico

Starting a manufacturing operation in Mexico offers a wealth of opportunities to foreign entities looking to leverage the many advantages offered by welcoming government agencies, a trained workforce, an established infrastructure, and lower operating costs.

However, to enjoy these privileges, manufacturers need to comply with many complex rules and regulations, file reports in a timely manner, and demonstrate that the company is trustworthy to government officials. If not, a company may be exposed to significant fines, potential legal problems, and a tarnished reputation with regulators and the local community.

This is when building a relationship with a reputable local partner that offers superior accounting services in Mexico comes in handy.

Why Compliance Is So Important

Any company operating in Mexico is subject to steep fines and penalties if they violate relevant rules and regulations, even if it happens inadvertently. In addition, all corporate accounting needs to abide by Mexican Financial Reporting Standards regardless of where their headquarters or other operations are located. Financial reports also need to be made to tax authorities on a monthly and yearly basis.

Examples of the types of reporting required in Mexico include:

1) Mexican Tax Authority (SAT) requires annual reporting of financial, tax, pricing, foreign trade, and other details in the form of an Informative Return for manufacturing and Export Services.

2) Value Added Tax (VAT) in Mexico is 16%. However, there are programs where this rate can be lowered to 0% for a period of time if the manufacturer applies for and complies with the requirements and reporting deadlines,

3) Payroll and withholding taxes are reported and paid to SAT. These also tend to be some of the more time-consuming business activities, and reporting requirements can consume inordinate amounts of time and resources to assemble.

4) Monthly reporting to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography about the value of imports (raw materials, packing, VAT of finished goods, etc.).

The list goes on and on.

Tetakawi Assumes These Responsibilities

When you partner with Tetakawi, accounting and financial reporting are taken care of for you. If any issues or problems arise, it is their responsibility to figure out a solution that works for all parties.

In addition, Tetakawi does the reporting and maintains permits that support its AAA VAT Certification and passes on the hard-earned benefits from this designation to the manufacturers who are part of its shelter services program. They also manage any external governmental audits that may rise.

Conclusion

Tetakawi has been helping companies from around the world relocate and establish manufacturing operations in Mexico for more than three decades. The company offers a myriad of advisory services—including accounting services—and ongoing support programs to help manufacturing companies optimize operations in Mexico while avoiding potential financial and compliance risks that come with operating in a foreign country.

As a respected local organization, Tetakawi can take on fiscal responsibilities for its partners and file any and all necessary reports with the various agencies. It has established systems in place that ensure compliance with federal, state, and local rules and regulations.

In addition, reliable accounting ensures that accounts payable and supplier accounts are managed properly. Because doing business in Mexico is built on trust and relationships, it is essential that a foreign entity select a local partner that brings these qualities to the table.

The post Reduce Accounting and Compliance Risks with a Trusted Partner in Mexico appeared first on Entrepreneurship Life.

- Carson Derrow
Top Ways to Handle Rapid Business Growth in Your Organization

When buying or starting a business, we all hope for and dream about the time when our venture is expanding rapidly, and we have so much growth that we have to hire more people and see profits pouring in.

However, too-quick growth can cause many teething problems, often leading organizations to shut down, sell, or close some parts of the venture.

As such, it’s vital to be strategic about how you handle times of rapid increases in customer sales. Here are some steps to take.

Keep a Close Eye on Cashflow

For starters, it’s vital to keep a close eye on cashflow. Many people erroneously think that when a business is growing rapidly, plenty of cash is coming in, so it’s not so essential to watch the reserves. However, while there may be plenty of incoming funds, there will also be more outgoings than before, whether in the cost of stock to sell, staff to man stores or complete services, bigger premises to pay for, and so on.

Many businesses have to suddenly close or get sold these days because the owners or managers have found themselves having a big issue with cashflow and unable to pay wages and other bills. As such, you need to avoid this situation, even when times are good and you might think it’s the last thing you have to worry about.

Get a Loan if Needed

To grow your business how you’d like, you may have to get access to additional funds. For instance, you might need to hire a bunch of new people all at once to service the extra demand you have suddenly, or invest in larger production facilities or more expensive equipment, or even buy a lot of inventory upfront ASAP to cater to the growth in demand.

When this happens, you may want to get a loan to help tide your business over until the funds from sales come in. Ensure you source a decent small business loan from a reputable lender who offers reasonable interest rates and terms and conditions. Don’t leave it until the last minute to source funds, as submitting applications and then waiting to see if they’re approved or denied can take a while.

You’ll need all your paperwork sorted out to apply for a loan, such as business tax returns, profit and loss and balance statements, lists of assets and liabilities, a business plan, and more. Be sure to research various lenders to find the best options for your needs, and consider going beyond just the big banks. Today, many alternative lenders are worth checking out, including those who operate online only or who cater specifically to clients in specific industries.

Plan Ahead as Much as Possible

When you have to handle rapid business growth, it’s normal to constantly “chase your tail” and feel like each day is just about solving one problem after another. However, for best results, it’s wise to try and plan ahead as much as you can. Work out your best moves in advance so you’re making decisions with some thought behind them rather than just on the fly.

It’s particularly beneficial to put some plans in place regarding marketing and sales strategies, human resource needs, and finances. Also, try to think monthly, quarterly, annually, and every two, three, and five years ahead so you know where you’re trying to go and why. Know your goals for the business and why you want to achieve them to be less distracted by interesting but not ideal opportunities along the way.

Ensure You Have the Right Team to Help You

You might have been doing most tasks yourself in your business until now, but if you’re getting a lot of growth in your venture, this won’t be able to continue. You will need to surround yourself with good people to help you handle the extra business and keep growing in the future.

As such, it’s time to start delegating work to employees or outsourcing tasks to qualified contractors. Focus on handling the things that only you can do and be willing to get the other jobs done by those you can easily pay for their time or train to do things the way you want them done.

Plus, you’ll want a solid team around you of advisors, mentors, and consultants, such as business coaches, accountants, financial advisors, solicitors, and the like. Utilize the expertise of these people to help you spot problems before they become major issues and cover yourself and your organization against potential future threats or at least chances of missing great opportunities. You may also want to bring some investors or a partner on board, depending on your goals and where you have gaps in knowledge and skills.

Other ways to handle rapid business growth are by setting up processes to streamline activities, spending plenty of time on customer service, and taking breaks to avoid burnout.

Fast growth is a double-edged sword, so be sure to be smart about how you deal with it over the coming months.

The post Top Ways to Handle Rapid Business Growth in Your Organization appeared first on Entrepreneurship Life.

- What I Found
Anurag Gupta | Calyptia
Anurag Gupta, Co-Founder of Calytpia

ANURAG GUPTA

Co-Founder of Calyptia, a company that makes it easy for users to get the most value out of their observability and security data.


What Is Calyptia? Tell Us About The Company And Overall Mission.

Calyptia is the company behind two open-source projects: FluentBit and Fluentd. These projects make it easy for users to get the most value out of their observability and security data. At the same time, they help users enrich, redact, reduce and process all of their data streams.



What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

I have been in the engineering and observability space for the past 10 years. I started at Microsoft, where I gained exposure to open source and where I met my current business partner, Eduardo Silva. 

After spending some time at Microsoft, I moved to Treasure Data and helped lead the enterprise piece of their open-source projects in 2017. After about eight months with Treasure Data, I felt my career needed a shift. The company was at a fork in the road –– whether to pursue customer data platforms or open source. Treasure Data was acquired shortly after, and I left for Elastik to work in cloud services and product management for the following two and a half years.

I saw an opportunity with Treasure Data that was never fully realized because of where the company was at the time. Eduardo and I remained in contact all those years and decided we could jump on the opportunity we saw at Treasure Data. We chose to pursue our own business, which is now Calyptia.




What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

I received two pieces of advice for naming a company: stay as close to the letter “A” as possible and if you can get a dotcom domain name, that’s a big bonus. Eduardo is from Chile and currently lives in Costa Rica. He has become fond of bird-related names, with a carrier pigeon logo for Fluentd and a hummingbird logo for Fluent Bit. The name Calyptia originated from the word calypte, which is the genus of the hummingbird. Calypte sounded like “Calyptia” when pronounced in Spanish, so the name stuck. 

We also had a Greek customer who pointed out that calypta or calypte means to assist or help in Greek. We like having that connotation associated with the name as well. 



What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

My favorite part of my entrepreneurial journey is the amount of impact and the immediate results we see from performance. As an entrepreneur, there’s no team I have to report back to or person I have to go to asking for permission. I’m able to execute as I see fit and watch how decisions unfold.

That autonomy also leads to my least favorite part — there’s a lot to do. In building Calyptia, there is never just one item on my to-do list. There are hundreds of parts of a company, and it’s easy to get lost in the minutiae. 

That said, running a business is also a lot of fun. There’s a lot to learn, try out and figure out  with such a diverse set of problems.

My most challenging and exciting moments are in determining how to grow effectively. As part of that, I want to ensure that the culture we want to embody as a company continues to tread well and that we’re working together as a company vs. just a product team, with shared collective goals. These are challenges I welcome as a first-time founder and are much greater than just wanting to build a product. 

There are two parts of my job that excite me the most. First, I love seeing the joy from customers when we help to solve their problems and the positive comments we get on our product. It’s great to know that we’re doing something valuable and that people are excited. 

That translates well to the second part that excites me most about my job, which is the people side of the equation. We’ve been able to create something that never existed before and everyone,  from product development to marketing team members, can see how the work they do resonates with users and customers. 




What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

We were lucky in the fundraising process. The time we began fundraising was in a founder- and funding-friendly time when folks were looking to invest in a seed round. When we brainstormed investors, we started by looking at trusted connections first and foremost.

We knew we already had a really large community of tens of thousands of users, and had almost already proven the efficacy of our business model from our previous work. There was an entire market being built around open source, so we took our one-year business plan and built it out for the next five to 10 years.




Who Are Your Co-Founders Or People Who You Work Very Closely With? How Do Their Skills Supplement Yours?

Eduardo is the other Co-Founder of Calyptia. He was responsible for creating FluentBit and is extremely technical in his abilities. I’m on the product management and sales side because I love interacting with people and making fast-moving decisions. Eduardo balances me out with his ability to focus on the long-term vision and technology aspect of the business. He is thoughtful about how to simultaneously take care of the product and segments of the business.



What Is One Thing About Building A Business You Did Not Know That You’ve Learned So Far Since Launching Calyptia?

The biggest thing I learned about building a business is not to underestimate how much people matter. A business is not a product or a number of sales or revenue. It’s the people who make up that business. I’ve loved learning how to host employees and ensure they feel taken care of. I hadn’t had much experience in that capacity before. 



How Has Growth Been Over The Last Year? Any New Products Or Features Launching Soon?

Growth at Calyptia has been great over the last year. We’re focused on open source and our commercial product, and we have seen both grow extraordinarily well. We’ve seen deployments grow from 1B to 3B on the open source side. With our product offering, we’ve been able to triple our revenue over the last year. We launched Calyptia Core earlier this year and are adding four to five new features a week. We welcome anyone interested in learning more to reach out to us.



Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines? What Are Some Tips You Have For Staying Productive?

My work day fluctuates throughout the week, but I like to keep my schedule open for new customers. At least 50% of my meetings for the week are with customers –– talking to them about use cases, selling to them and understanding their problems.

Another 25% of my time is spent with the team to ensure everyone is aligned with how we tackle our goals. The last 25% of my time is dedicated to thinking and can be as simple as going on a walk.

Tools-wise, I implement as many as I can into my daily routine. I’m a self-diagnosed tools addict. If I see something on Product Hunt that’s cool, I’ll check it out. And if it adds value, I try to add it to what I already use: some of which are Motion, Superhuman and Google Docs.



What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

There’s a lot of gatekeeping in the entrepreneurial world, but prospective entrepreneurs just need to start. As long as someone starts and continues with the most basic skill –– even part-time –– over a long period of time, their chances of success increase. A person’s determination for entrepreneurial success can be different too. That success may be an additional $10 each month to supplement the occasional fast-food meal. But courage, persistence and the willingness to start are essential for entrepreneurs.



Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You That Taught You An Important Lesson.

As mentioned, I’m a first-time founder, but I tried to start a company twice before Calyptia. The first time, I tried to start a project with a bunch of random folks. The team was really tenured and cohesive from past careers and we had a beta product out there, but when I started to get into fundraising, I realized I wasn’t fully into it.

After that experience, I decided to do a small project with a trusted ex-coworker who was also a really good friend. I worked on this education startup project for a few months. I ultimately left that startup though because I missed working in infrastructure. It’s okay if things don’t feel right and good to listen to that: sometimes your gut is really important.

Initially, I was an advisor to Calyptia in its early stages, before recognizing my passion for the project and deciding to join full-time. There are so many opportunities out there. Entrepreneurs should know that the journey may not start out perfectly and while that may be discouraging, it’s important to continue pushing forward.



What Are Some Things You Incorporate Into Your Schedule To Maintain Health And Wellness?

I like to go to the gym a couple of times a week, where I do yoga or class-based fitness. It’s also important to me to monitor my health and take time off if not feeling 100%. I always encourage every employee to do the same.



What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

I like to travel a lot if I can. I will go anywhere to hike or spend time seeing the sights. Otherwise, I’m always super-eager and happy to play video games, read books and spend time with family. Any free time, I’ll take it.

My favorite place I recently visited was Colombia. I also traveled to Cuba about five years ago and thought it was really cool to see Havana and the old cars.



Who Is Your Role Model?

My mom is my role model. She works really hard and has a great way of attacking problems.



If You Can Have A One-hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be And Why?

I would have a one-hour meeting with Jamie Dimon, the CEO of Chase. He has a different way of thinking about the world that is so far removed from everyday thinking. I’d like to hear his perspective on life and business.



Any Other Thoughts You Want To Share Relating To Current Events, The Economy, Political Climate, Or Any Other Topic?

With the current state of the economy, the pandemic, and the war between Russia and Ukraine, it’s impactful to see how global the world has become. Things so far away can have such a global impact. Pricing, inflation and gas are all connected globally.

With software and open source, we find ourselves in a position where the global community is even closer. There were big fires in Greece a few years ago, and the open-source community connected with those impacted by the fire. Communities like these make connections much smaller and less far apart.

Calyptia’s goal is to create a global company with open source first. Wherever our customers are, we want to meet them and help them be the best they can be. That mindset has helped us scale, and we’ve seen success and more opportunities in a post-COVID, remote world. As we remain closer together, we soldier on.



What Does Success Mean To You?

To me, success is control over my own time — doing the things I love to do and meeting with the people I’d like to meet. Want to go on a trip? Let’s go! I like the ability to travel and experience new parts of life. Success is not anything too monetary to me.

  Anurag Gupta’s Favorites Stack:

Books:

1. Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism, by Olivia Fox Gabane

2. The Mom Test, by Rob Fitzpatrick

3. Atomic Habits, by James Clear

Health & Fitness:

1. Orangetheory Fitness

2. CorePower for yoga

3. Peloton in between classes

Brands:

1. Costco t-shirts (they’re the most comfortable)

2. Rhone for athletic gear

3. Allbirds for shoes

Products:

1. MacBook

2. iPhone (I’m too addicted)

3. Noise-canceling Sony headphones because I travel a decent amount

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. How I Built This with Guy Raz

2. The Daily by NYT

3. Observability newsletter from Michael Hausenblas

Upcoming Travel Spots:

1. Rwanda

2. Sri Lanka, when it opens back up

3. Seychelles

- What I Found
Lamine Zarrad | StellarFi
Lamine Zarrad

LAMINE ZARRAD

Founder & CEO of StellarFi, a company set out to solve one of the biggest economic problems faced by American consumers - access to credit.


What Is StellarFi? Tell Us About What You Do And How It Works.

StellarFi is a credit-building platform and public benefit corporation on a mission to disrupt the U.S. poverty cycle and provide credit access to 132 million Americans with low or no credit.

Members can begin using StellarFi through a tiered monthly subscription, which empowers them to build credit by paying the bills they already have, such as streaming services, rent and phone bills. We report bill payments made through StellarFi’s platform to the three major credit bureaus – Experian®, TransUnion® and Equifax® – building a positive payment history for our members. The website application launched in June 2022, and we are rolling out a mobile app later this year.

I’ve been on a trajectory of creating solutions for larger problems. I went from optimizing logistics at one military base to tackling banking challenges across a whole industry, and now, I want to take on issues facing entire populations and help those whose lives have been impacted by a lack of financial literacy or a string of financial challenges.



What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

My goal is to leverage technology to help others succeed, but growing up, my goal was about trying to survive. I was born in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan SSR, which was a former republic of the USSR. When the Soviet Union fell, my family was forced to escape from an ongoing ethnic war on Armenians, which my mother was.

Suddenly, my comfortable childhood was turned into being a refugee with nothing but a bag of clothes. After fleeing to Moscow, eventually making it to the United States and going to school here, I joined the Marine Corps.

On my first deployment to Iraq, my inner entrepreneur really took over. I always noticed inefficiencies and assessed processes, and I would pitch ways to improve infrastructure to the colonel running the base I was on. Thankfully he was very receptive to my ideas and allowed me to help manage logistics for our base of 20,000 personnel. The resourcefulness that I honed as a refugee and immigrant helped me make significant improvements to our infrastructure and logistics during that time.

After the military, I earned a business degree and landed my first job in financial services at Merrill Lynch. I wanted to continue in the financial sector, so I went to grad school to study economic policy and worked for a hedge fund. Then, I accepted a position as a bank examiner in the U.S. Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

As a regulator, I had a unique, 360-degree view of the banking system and saw that banks, both large and small, were (and still are) profoundly reactive instead of proactive. This prompted my interest in how we could use data-driven technology to help banks make more advantageous decisions and provide better experiences to customers. These experiences led to the birth of my first startup, Tokken. Since then, I’ve founded Joust (acquired by ZenBusiness) and now StellarFi.



What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

The inspiration is the double entendre of “stellar” credit that signifies financial excellence and illustrates the grandness of our cosmic concept.



What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

My favorite part of the journey is the process of creation. I love synthesizing seemingly unrelated concepts into something completely new and then bringing that idea to life. The least liked experience is having to fire people. I always take it personally.

The most challenging moment for the company and me is always the decision to actually commit to the concept full time because there’s no going back once you head down that road. You either succeed or fail, but either way, you must complete the journey.



What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

In March, StellarFi closed a $7.2M initial funding round. The round was led by Acrew Capital and co-led by Trust Ventures with participation from Accomplice Ventures, Fiat Ventures, Vera Equity, Permit Ventures, Kindergarten Ventures, and angel investors.

Since March, we’ve brought on amazing talent from across the globe and publicly launched the StellarFi credit-building platform. With thousands of members now using the platform, we’re busy improving the current experience and designing valuable features we’re excited to launch later this year.




Who Are Your Co-Founders Or People Who You Work Very Closely With? How Do Their Skills Supplement Yours?

My founding partners are Stacey Tisdale and Angela Yee. Stacey Tisdale is an award-winning TV broadcast financial journalist, financial behavior expert and CEO and co-host of Wealth Wednesdays, a digital financial empowerment platform. Angela Yee is a serial entrepreneur. She co-hosts the nationally syndicated morning show The Breakfast Club and Wealth Wednesdays, and she hosts her own podcast.

Stacey and Angela are both financial literacy advocates and have done great work to inform and empower their communities. StellarFi is a public benefit corporation with a mission to improve the financial well-being of Americans. Stacey and Angela share this vision and they have the tools to speak to the underserved communities we want to reach.



StellarFi Is A Public Benefit Corporation. Tell Us More About This And What It Means In Terms Of Your Company’s Values And Goals.

People deserve more. Anyone who pays rent should have the opportunity to buy a home, and no one should be stuck in a cycle of not being able to get credit because they don’t already have credit, or paying more for things because they have less financial power. That’s what inspired me to found StellarFi as a public benefit corporation. We want to generate new opportunities that anyone can access.

Earlier this year, StellarFi co-hosted its first community-focused financial literacy event with the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority chapter to promote financial literacy for the BlPOC community. In turn, the city of Bridgeport mayor named April 30, the date of the event, Stellar Credit Day in honor of the event.

This event came on the heels of StellarFi’s “Get Your Bills Paid with Stellar!” $10,000 Sweepstakes to help people pay their bills with sweepstakes prizes totaling nearly $70,000.

StellarFi also partners with Stellar Credit Day keynote speaker Stacey Tisdale, who also is a StellarFi founding partner, and Angela Yee on initiatives including sharing financial literacy best practices through their digital finance empowerment program “Wealth Wednesdays.”



Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines? What Are Some Tips You Have For Staying Productive?

I really, really dislike routines. But I recognize the value of having some predictability in the day. So I try to have consistency in my daily activities but reserve the right to be flexible in changing and modifying whatever I’m doing.

What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

Resilience (because it’s a freaking grind). Empathy (because you MUST KNOW thy customer and team). Killer Instinct (because you only eat what you kill).

You must ask yourself if there’s something else that you could do for a living, if the answer is yes, then do yourself a huge favor and pursue that other thing. If the answer is: I absolutely can not do anything else but be an entrepreneur then go for it.


What Is One Thing About Building A Business You Did Not Know That You’ve Learned So Far Since Launching StellarFi?

We thought our product was solving a big problem for a small group of people. Instead, we realized we have a mass market solution.



Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You That Taught You An Important Lesson.

Although it’s a funny mistake now, it was terrifying back then. The funniest mistake I made was at my very first significant investor pitch to Wells Fargo. Investor pitches have a specific format with only so much time allotted and specific points to hit, and at this pitch, there were dozens of investors, high-profile people, and a handful of other startups. I had shared my ideas before and spoken to investors and thought I had my pitch down, so I barely spent any time practicing.

When it was time for my pitch, I stepped up on the stage and blanked. I was so nervous. Every second felt like an eternity because I couldn’t push a word out. Words finally started coming out of my mouth and I’m still not quite sure what I said. I said some things about the business and maybe about the business model. After I finished, I sat down next to one of my co-founders and he said “Well, the silver lining here is no one can steal our idea.”

The takeaway from that experience was no matter how good you think you are, practice is essential. Every new experience is unique and requires practice for success. I felt I was experienced in selling my ideas and public speaking, but since then I’ve learned it’s important to prepare.



What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

I spend time with my family, read, exercise, play and try to carve as much time as possible to think.



Who Is Your Role Model?

I don’t have a role model.



What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

Failure is a factor of success” is my mantra.

You have to embrace and anticipate it. No matter how experienced you are, there will be failure and you have to manage it, leverage it, then turn it into success.


How Do You Think Your Industry (Or The World In General) Will Change Post-COVID?

Fintech provides compelling ideas and technologies to emerge that will alter the state of our ever-changing world. Here’s what to watch for:

Accelerated evolution: Because of COVID-19, remote work was an absolute necessity for over two years, and platforms like Zoom and Slack scaled at absurd rates to keep businesses operational. Tech investments were completely recalibrated, with billions in capital going to the digital economy. The lesson from this is to continue our technological and entrepreneurial evolution to better prepare for the unknown and unpredictable tech evolutions, in fintech specifically.

Decentralized trust: For better or for worse, Americans have disassembled their trust in the mega-entities that once dictated our opinions, decisions and ideologies. But, as with anything else, decentralized trust has a silver lining—especially for fintech. Consumers who once feared using a credit card online are now comfortable depositing checks digitally, using apps to transfer money to friends and family and investing in blockchain. In short, decentralized trust has a ripple effect that leads to consumers accessing loans, investment tools and more through fintech that would otherwise be unavailable.

Mass empowerment: There are swaths of the American populace that don’t understand the power of a good credit score—not because they lack financial literacy, but because they’ve never experienced life without good credit. With inadequate credit, consumers pay more for necessities, lack access to credit-based investments like homeownership and education, and endure financial emergencies with no safety net. Poor credit begets poor credit, and the consequences persist from generation to generation. Although Americans are facing immense challenges in a post-COVID world, it has opened the eyes of many to better understand and adopt financially literate practices.


Any Other Thoughts You Want To Share Relating To Current Events, The Economy, Political Climate, Or Any Other Topic?

Inflation is currently at a forty-year high as a recession looms in the near future. Americans don’t have to feel weighed down by a troubled economy and can take straightforward steps to ensure financial stability in the coming months and year:

Get current on your credit card payments 

Falling behind on loans and credit card payments can have serious consequences for your credit. Payment history, which represents your track record for repaying your debts, accounts for 35% of your credit score – more than any other credit rating factor.  Lenders can only report delinquent accounts to the credit bureaus if they’re more than 30 days overdue, but they may charge penalties if you pay even one day late. Coupled with inflation, those late fees can snowball into a serious deficit in your budget. Automating your payments can help if you simply forget due dates. If you find yourself making late payments because you don’t typically have cash in your account when the bill is due, look for areas to reduce expenses temporarily while you get caught up.

2. Build an emergency savings fund

Saving money is challenging, and unfortunately, building a savings fund becomes even more challenging during an economic downturn. Although it’s tough, focusing on stashing some cash away can keep rising prices and financial emergencies from causing long-term damage. For example, if you need to cover an unexpected repair or medical bill, a savings account helps you avoid going into debt to pay the bill or fall behind on your other expenses.

3. Reduce your spending and expenses

The forces driving inflation are complicated, but the effect is simple: as prices rise, life gets more expensive. Take a look at your accounts to see how your spending has shifted in recent months. If you notice vulnerable areas or your spending is no longer aligned with your financial goals or income, look for ways to cut back. You can’t control the price of gas or food, but you can control how often you drive or eat out, or eliminate unused memberships and subscriptions.

What Does Success Mean To You?

Success = freedom to do most daily things not out of necessity but because you want to do them.

  Lamine Zarrad’s Favorites Stack:

Books:

1. What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars, by Brendan Moynihan and Jim Paul

2. Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution, by Peter Kropotkin

- What I Found
Christy Fletcher | Authoritive

CHRISTY FLETCHER

Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Authoritive, a company that builds customized learning experiences over messaging technology for experts and creators.


What Is Authoritive? Tell Us About What You Do And How It Works.

Authoritive is a technology platform that allows content creators, coaches and experts of all kinds to deliver paid programs via messaging (SMS, WhatsApp, Slack, MSTeams et al). Right now, we’re collaborating on the content development and building each program, and supporting the creators in marketing and sales, so we’re selective about who we’re working with, but by the end of this year we’ll have a self-service option that will allow anyone to create a program and sell it.


What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

My background is in publishing. I have run a very successful literary management company where I collaborated with writers to help them develop ideas which turned into books and then supported them in the publishing of those books. Eventually I grew into helping them develop communities around their work and with strategies for how to grow their businesses to be self-sustaining. In doing this over and over, I realized how many people were overly dependent on social media platforms that both owned their audience and required enormous effort to maintain engagement, while only providing erratic monetization at best.

There were also people who wrote books and made a good living speaking or consulting but were limited by their available time and by not having a product outside of themselves or a book. I concluded that there had to be a technology solution that would fill this product space, enabling them to deliver an experience of value to their audience, keeping that connection strong, while providing recurring revenue. Messaging does all of that and we’ve built a system that provides a very rich experience that feels personalized, like it’s one to one.



What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

We ran on revenues for a few years before raising money so we were in a relatively good spot to approach the process. We were able to secure a significant (for us) seed round and found a lot of support in the EdTech space. Owl Ventures led the round and GMG Ventures became a major investor along with a small number of strategic angel investors. The funds were invested in two ways- expanding our team and developing the foundation of what will be a self-service platform launching later this year, in addition to add some important product features that make for a richer user experience.



Who Are Your Co-Founders Or People Who You Work Very Closely With? How Do Their Skills Supplement Yours?

My two co-founders are Jacob Lewis and Gene Cohen. Gene is our CTO whose background is in building and managing messaging systems. Jacob is my co-CEO who was an executive at Conde Nast, before starting his own content startup (which he later sold). They both have worked in venture-backed companies before (and together) and have a deep understanding of managing technology (and tech teams). It complements my background working with creative people which brings more of a brand, editorial and design sensibility. They happen to be very funny people which has kept us moving together through all of the ups and downs of startup life.


What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

The collaboration with creative people who are passionate about their work and supporting their audiences is always energizing for me. After years of being a solopreneur, working with my two co-founders and building a team together has been rewarding in all kinds of ways. The hardest parts are navigating all of the unknowns and always trying to see around corners, but that’s just part of trying to learn how to build something that didn’t exist before. Every new program launch is a thrill and seeing how audiences respond to the experience; closing our seed round was also thrilling.



Can You Share A Couple Of Use Cases With Us Of How Different Creators Or Businesses Use Authoritive To Distribute Content?

Of course. We collaborated with food entrepreneur and award-winning writer Mark Bittman on a program to help people eat less meat. It’s an instructional program that delivers cooking tips and recipes with step by step instructions pushed on demand over sms. Another example is Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas who co-teach a course at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business called Humor Serious Business. We developed a curriculum that helps people use levity as a super power at work that can be delivered over sms but can also be delivered via MS Teams or Slack so companies can make it available to their employees directly where they are already working.



What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

We started out working with authors primarily and people who have a lot of authority in their fields. So Authoritive was a combination of author and authoritative.



Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines? What Are Some Tips You Have For Staying Productive?

I’m an early riser. So I get up around 5:30, make coffee and take my dog for a walk before getting kids out the door. I’m at my desk by 8 and each day is a new set of meetings, zoom, writing or other deep work before cutting out around 6:30. I blocked off an hour each day for “lunch” which gives me a space in my day to breathe, take a walk, actually eat. That let’s me re-energize for the second part of the day. I am working on trying to get to bed earlier but am notorious in my family for falling asleep on the couch. No one wants to watch a show with me at this point!




What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

The top three qualities that I think helps entrepreneurs succeed are curiosity, empathy, and critical thinking.

The ability to step back and assess situations or problems critically, with curiosity and empathy for the different perspectives present, helps you gather important information in order to make good decisions. It also helps you recover from decisions that didn’t turn out well.



What Is One Thing About Building A Business You Did Not Know That You’ve Learned So Far Since Launching Authoritive?

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that everything takes longer than you expect it to so it’s best to just accept that and build it into your models.



Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You That Taught You An Important Lesson.

When I was starting out, working in publishing, an editor I really looked up to was working with a brilliant but unconventional writer. I asked how he navigated editing such a complicated text. He told a story about the editing that really stuck with me- there was a list of names in the book that he felt was too long for the reader to recall, so he suggested cutting it down to only a few so it would be easier to absorb. When the book was redelivered the list was three times as long. The point wasn’t to recall the names. His job as the editor was to ask the questions, not to solve the problem, so the writer can craft solutions that reflect their intention. I’ve thought about that in mentoring people or managing processes, that my role is not to find the solution to every problem. It’s to ask the right questions.



What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

I read a ton- books, articles, newsletters. I listen to podcasts. I spend time with my kids and husband. I love seeing movies but I’m out of the habit now because of COVID.


Who Is Your Role Model?

My current role model is Alexander Vindman. He lives a life that is principled and loving, courageous and hardworking. I’ve been lucky enough to get to know him and my admiration is even deeper.

What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

“The days are long but the years are short.”

It’s from my friend and longtime collaborator Gretchen Rubin. It is a perfect reminder of the duality of life, both fast and slow, and how important it is to be really present.


Any Other Thoughts You Want To Share Relating To Current Events, The Economy, Political Climate, Or Any Other Topic?

My kids are both studying US history- high school and middle school level- and it is shocking to see how many issues in the late 1800s are still pervasive issues today. We’re living through a particularly dangerous moment for the world, but we’ve been in dangerous times before and wiser people have prevailed. I’m holding on to my optimism, while working hard to see the world as it is, which is the only way to help make it better.


What Does Success Mean To You?

For me success is about having agency, the ability to choose how I spend my time and what I give my attention to and it means having the resources to support other people reach their potential. We’re not supposed to define success in financial terms, but I find that only people with a lot of money pretend that money doesn’t play a role in how they define success. For me, having started out without it, achieving financial stability was an important part of feeling successful.

  Christy Fletcher’s Favorites Stack:

Books:

1. Creativity Inc., by Ed Catmull

2. The Captain Class, by Sam Walker (by my husband, but objectively brilliant)

3. Made to Stick, by Chip and Dan Heath

Health & Fitness:

1. Walking

2. LMNT

3. I have a new GoRuck sack I’m going to test out soon.

Brands:

1. Athleta has the best, softest yoga pants

2. Nili Lotan

3. Me + Em for summer clothes

Products:

1. Nespresso

2. Airpods

3. Altoids

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. Smartless (podcast)

2. CreatorEconomy.so (Peter Yang’s substack)

3. Divinations (by Nathan Bashaw, founder of Every)

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Bermuda

2. Copenhagen

3. Thailand

- What I Found
Andrew Luong | Doorvest

ANDREW LUONG

Co-Founder & CEO of Doorvest, a modern, frictionless way to own income generating homes entirely online.


What Is Doorvest? Tell Us All About Your Company And Mission.

90% of the world's millionaires have attributed their wealth to real estate investing, yet homeownership rates have declined to all-time lows. This unfortunate reality is due to the time commitment and friction of the traditional process and the capital barrier due to rising home values, stagnant wages, and mounting student loan debt. Similar to other high-quality assets, everyday investors have been locked out of the #1 most favored investment asset class, real estate. This is why we built Doorvest.

Doorvest is the first end-to-end real estate investment platform with a mission to advance financial security for all via ownership of out-of-state rental properties.

Doorvest lives at the intersection between technology and real estate by providing an all-in-one solution, eliminating the most painful steps for the end customer. We mitigate risk from the customer's perspective by providing extensive renovations to deliver a new home. In addition, we've aligned our pricing with our customers to ensure we're both working towards the same goal: a long-term and successful investment property with a series of guarantees that fosters a stress-free and happy customer.

In traditional real estate investing, the end-to-end timeline is 6 months with at least 26 steps for a customer to comb through. Doorvest does it in 12 steps, half the time. We also emphasize pricing transparency. This means home prices are set to effectively remove the traditional bidding wars and simplify the process overall for old and new homeowners.

In the end, a customer receives a completely renovated home with a first-year rental and maintenance guarantee, an average cash-on-cash return of 6% while still capturing tax and equity advantages that generate passive income from day 1.





What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

Doorvest is an organic embodiment of many of our team's backgrounds. Personally, I grew up middle class. Never truly financially secure, I saw firsthand the downside of financial instability and how it jeopardized my family unit. As I grew up, those memories stuck with me and shaped my path working in sales and partnerships. This led me to real estate investing as an avenue to generate passive income and build a long-term nest egg. I was fortunate enough to build a small portfolio with a small starting capital, and friends around me began to take notice. There was never a singular platform that I could point them towards to make it easier for friends to get started, so Doorvest became the embodiment of that.

The name Doorvest derives from the idea of investors investing in front doors. I do remember a funny story about our name – When I first secured the domain for doorvest.com, someone offered me $500 to buy the domain. At the time, we had no traction and no customers, so I thought this was a funny way to make some extra bucks if the name didn't stick.



What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

Funding varies by round. We've raised close to $18M in equity to date and $25M in debt to fund the real estate part of the business. Most recently, we had our Series A round and that was focused on market expansion and bringing on more awesome team members to support the increased scope of the business. Ultimately, driving growth in the business and growth in new customers/ homeowners.  


Who Are Your Co-Founders Or People Who You Work Very Closely With? How Do Their Skills Supplement Yours?

In the traditional sense, Justin Kasad is my Co-Founder and CTO of Doorvest. The company, however, went through multiple iterations, and every time was a new founding moment. As such, I see all of the team members as co-founders as they played a pivotal role in those times. Moving forward, I imagine having more founding moments as we track down the road to advancing financial security for all.




What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

This journey - with Doorvest - is the most rewarding thing I've ever attempted in my life. The ability to serve lots and lots of customers and build an excellent work culture that has folks excited to work every day are some of the things I find most rewarding. Seeing our progress so far gives me a lot of optimism for the future ahead. From a challenge standpoint, it depends on the chapter and what's happening worldwide. One of the biggest challenges I dealt with was our 1st round of funding, getting enough cash to get the business off the ground, and it took us 5 months fighting tooth and nail for every dollar. Many times, we didn't think we could get enough cash to get Doorvest off the ground. Recently, one of the most challenging times was ensuring the company is rowing in the same direction, and alignment takes a lot of work.



How Has Recent Housing Supply Shortages Impacted Business For Doorvest? How Has COVID-19 Impacted Doorvest Both In Terms Of Growth Plans As Well As Day-to-day Operations?

In short, this made all of our jobs harder. With the lack of supply, there will be more competition and rising home values that compress customer yield, which ultimately leads to fewer homes that attract customers than before. Such conditions pressed us to be more creative in acquiring homes that would guarantee attraction. We have lots of optimism ahead because the real estate market will soften at some point - meaning less competition and allowing us to offer our customers increasingly higher yields and investments. Our team has managed to combat these challenges by carrying out quick and consistent sprints that are sustainable for the long run. 


How Has Growth Been Over The Last Year? Any New And Exciting Products Launching Soon?

In 2022 alone, we introduced a home matching algorithm called Doormatch. Doormatch takes customers' investment criteria and automatically matches their preferences to the ideal investment home. We also revamped the path to access Doorvest home profiles and how to easily reserve homes of interest. Most importantly, we expanded into 3 new markets: Atlanta, San Antonio, and recently, Oklahoma City. Be on the lookout for more expansions as we don't plan on stopping anytime soon.



Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines? What Are Some Tips You Have For Staying Productive?

My day starts around 7 in the morning. Get up, meditate, drink some coffee or work out, hit the shower, and get ready for the work day. Work begins around 8:30-9 am and runs until 6:30 pm. Then I log off, grab dinner and rinse and repeat. This schedule varies by day as sometimes I'll do another hour or two in the evenings. But ultimately, my schedule is the same every day for 5 workdays. Fridays and Saturdays are my off days where I intentionally stay away from email and Slack. Initially, I deleted the email app on my phone because I found myself constantly opening emails and scrolling, and there's a mental stimulation that goes on even when I wasn't replying to those emails. On Sundays, I'll work another 2-4 hours to clean up my inbox and give myself a soft start to the week ahead. This routine has given me the right balance to stay energetic, and I believe energy is essential to perform at the highest levels for the long run consistently.



What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

It's essential to have a strong understanding of your purpose and your "why." There are many ups and downs in startup environments, so having a clear Northstar that you are working towards is critical, especially in downtimes. Also, it's vital to ensure that you and your team are resilient and can handle questions like: How do we, as a team/ as a company, withstand outside conditions? How do we ensure we can consistently build despite changing, uncontrollable circumstances? 



What Is One Thing About Building A Business You Did Not Know That You’ve Learned So Far Since Launching Doorvest?

It's very, very hard to build a business. There are tactical and psychological learnings, but when outside conditions constantly evolve, and you are working to bring a platform into existence that's never done before, it's inevitably really hard. Many team members would agree. The upside is the magnitude of how rewarding it feels to have brought something to life. 


If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

Tim Ferriss is the first that comes to mind. Tim Ferriss' books have fundamentally shaped how I view life, work, personal finances, and lifestyle design. 



What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

"Your problems never cease, they just change." 

At first glance, the quote sounds morbid with your life having problems consistently. But if you take a step back, challenges/ struggles/ problems are inevitability human life. The disconnect here is people tend to think they live an unhappy life until they get a new shiny car, get a new job, make X amount of money, marry a beautiful spouse, etc., and all of their problems will go away. The reality is as soon as you arrive at those milestones, you will want and face new challenges, and enough will never be enough. The goal is to enjoy the journey vs. the destination. 


Any Other Thoughts You Want To Share Relating To Current Events, The Economy, Political Climate, Or Any Other Topic?

We are very optimistic about the future despite turbulent market conditions. As mentioned earlier, we have successfully made progress despite many headwinds within a competitive housing market. As the market softens, it’s Doorvest’s chance to play offense and provide customers with more stability in their investments and income streams. And ultimately, build an increasingly bigger business.  


What Does Success Mean To You?

Success means three things for me: 

Success means driving the most meaningful impact for as many people as possible - how can Doorvest create more homeowners and increase the speed of homeownership? How can we partner with our customers as they build their investment portfolios, go on their financial journey to freedom, enter retirement, and live off these income streams? 

Success is our team. How can Doorvest, as a company, also cultivate an environment where members can feel supported and grow? 

Success is building a meaningful business that drives a solid financial return for all of our stakeholders (as we have quite a few investors in the company, and it was intentionally designed as such). 

  Andrew Luong’s Favorites Stack:

Books:

1. 4-Hour Week by Tim Ferriss. Topics mentioned in this book has shaped by life

2. Thinking In Bets by Annie Duke. Annie was a professional poker player, and she talks about the psychology of non-binary decisions. What this means is you can make the wrong decision and have the right outcome or you can make the right decision and make the right outcome. The importance here is being able to determine whether or not the decision made at the time was right or not. 

3. Radical Candor by Kim Scott. This book talks about the importance of feedback loops and how to build trusts and deep relationships. Knowledge here can be taken into the workplace and be utilized in life as well. 

Health & Fitness:

1. Ooler Chilipad. I invested a bit in this product- it’s a heating and cooling topper for my bed. It uses heat to help put you to sleep and cools down to bring your body temperature to an ideal temperature for an optimal sleep quality. Then it uses heat again to wake you up in the morning.

2. WHOOP. It tracks my sleep and daily HRV (heart rate variability), particularly what stress does to my HRV over time. It’s really interesting to learn what inputs led to these outputs. For example, don’t drink before you go to bed because they’ll mess up your recover and sleep quality. 

3. Barry's Bootcamp. I do it once a week. It’s fun to do a high intensity interval training, especially when doing with our group at work.

Products:

1. Top of mind is Athletic Greens. I don’t usually like to eat a lot of vegetables so this is a great way to check off my daily vitamins and greens intake. 

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. The Tim Ferriss Show

2. The All-In Podcast (covers everything from politics to economy, startups to venture, etc.)

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Up next, I would like to go back to Vietnam. I’ve been there before but it would be great to return with my girlfriend as both of our parents are from there. It’ll be really exciting to have this immersive experience together. 

2. Perhaps sometime next year, I would like to visit Italy. There’s something about the country that feels so idyllic. Renting a convertible and driving the Southern Coast, or renting a boat and enjoy a beautiful day on the lake. 

- What I Found
Steven Zhou | Moov

STEVEN ZHOU

Co-Founder & CEO of Moov, the fastest growing marketplace for used manufacturing equipment in the world.

What Is Moov? Tell Us All About Your Platform, How It Works, And About The Types Of Companies That Are Your Customers.

At Moov, our goal is to accelerate global manufacturing, R&D, and technological progress by fundamentally improving the supply chain. We are improving the supply chain by making it possible to buy and sell pre-owned manufacturing equipment from any fabrication center in the world in a matter of moments, through our digital marketplace.

Our customers are primarily semiconductor manufacturers, and sometimes equipment refurbishers and brokers. Our customers look to Moov for a trustworthy, reliable, and transparent alternative to the 12-24 month wait times for buying new equipment. We are building a unified global secondary market for supply-chain critical equipment where none exists today – and the historical options for buying used equipment have been plagued with inefficiencies, bad actors, and inaccurate information. With Moov, chipmakers need only to search our global marketplace for the exact tools they need, choose from validated listings from pre-vetted suppliers, purchase their tool, and enjoy an ecosystem of aftermarket service providers to make every aspect of buying equipment - from financing through logistics - seamless.



What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

I’m originally from Los Angeles, studied Economics at University of California, San Diego, and started my career working in M&A focusing on Industrials, Semiconductors, and Aerospace and Defense. I was attracted to the massive economy that underpins all of the technology we take for granted in our everyday lives and decided to focus on the semiconductor industry, specifically semiconductor manufacturing equipment.

Prior to Moov, I spent over a decade in the semiconductor industry, holding senior management roles overseeing deal cycles at two asset trading firms. While working in the industry, my co-founder, Maxam Yeung, and I were struck by the antiquated processes used to buy and sell six-figure high tech manufacturing equipment, and the inefficiencies these processes created. In late 2017, we decided to start Moov to bring automation and digitization to the semiconductor manufacturing equipment supply chain.


What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

The honest answer is that I had a vivid dream during the early days, and a cow came out and said “Moooov!” But when I woke up, my co-founder and I realized that “Moov” is also a play on “moving” equipment but also speaks to our culture of getting things done. We’re not just moving equipment – we are growing an entire secondary market, and in doing so, moving an entire industry toward a more sustainable supply chain.


What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

The most challenging part of my entrepreneurial journey has been learning to say no. Whether it’s an oversubscribed round, a firehose of ideas for our product roadmap, or simply too many appointments on my calendar, I have learned that prioritization is the number one challenge I face as the CEO of a fast-growing company. I have also learned that prioritization is the most critical element to sustainable growth. On the flip side of this coin, hiring rockstars and watching them grow in their roles and help grow Moov in new ways has been one of my favorite parts of the entrepreneurial journey.

One challenging and exciting moment for Moov was relocating our headquarters from San Francisco to greater Phoenix, Arizona in 2020. At the time, we knew the future of semiconductor manufacturing in the U.S. was outside of Silicon Valley – in a network of up-and-coming tech hubs across the country. However, relocating is always challenging – we didn’t know what to expect when it came to hiring in the market, office space, the local technology community culture, etc. That said, I can honestly say that moving to Tempe, Arizona was one of the best moves we have made as a company. Not only are we at the center of a burgeoning semiconductor hub, but also I truly believe that the locations like greater Phoenix, and Austin, TX where we just opened an office this year, will continue to attract top-notch talent due to the better quality of life they offer.


What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

In business, and fundraising, timing is critical. When my co-founder, Max, and I went to raise our seed round, we were ahead of the curve for our industry. Despite being the namesake of Silicon Valley, at the end of 2016 venture capital investment in the semiconductor industry was stagnant, hovering around $1.5bn since 2000 (Pitchbook). As of 2021 year end, that number jumped 400% to $7.8bn.

The primary challenge in raising seed funding was to convince investors of our vision to bring the same data and automation used to drive efficiency across other industries to the semiconductor capital equipment supply chain. We were successful in doing so, and actually ended up having to turn down investors in an oversubscribed round led by NFX with participation by Decent Capital, David Adelman’s Darco Capital, Great Oaks Venture Capital, and several notable angel investors. We welcomed a few strategic investors for a bridge round in 2020 including Mark Cuban, and Nat Turner and Zach Weinberg, co-founders of Flatiron Health.

We used our initial funding to bring on great talent, build our platform, and grow our marketplace to over $1 billion in gross merchandise value of listings.

When we went to raise our series A in 2021, the world was in critical need of nimble solutions to combat supply chain disruptions and chip shortages. Although we received several Tier 1 term sheets, we ended up closing $41 million Series A funding led by Tiger Global. Other notable investors included public semiconductor investor Gavin Baker of Atreides Management, Valor Equity Partners, Avenir Growth Fund and existing investors. We used these funds to expand operations both in the US and globally, to further ensure semiconductor manufacturers have access to alternative supply sources for capital equipment.

How Has Growth Been Over The Last Year? Anything New And Exciting Launching Soon?

Growth has been exponential over the last year. We recently announced an industry-changing buy-back guarantee policy to de-risk these 6-figure purchases. This is a game-changer for the industry, and the only such policy that exists when buying secondhand equipment. Risk and reliability is the number one barrier to growing the secondary market – with this announcement, Moov is removing that barrier.



How Has COVID-19 And Recent Supply Chain Issues Impacted Your Business And Operation Over The Last Couple Of Years?

When we started Moov in 2017, we knew the semiconductor manufacturing supply chain was broken, but we did not predict the global chip shortages that have plagued our industry for the past year and show no sign of abating. Supply chain issues due to COVID-19 and natural disasters coupled with a surge in end market demand has created a global chip shortage, the likes of which the world has never experienced. These events serve to underscore the dire need for more flexible sourcing options for semiconductor manufacturing equipment. We started Moov to add transparency, accountability, and reliability to the secondary market for manufacturing equipment, and in doing so, help ease barrier to entry for small to midsize manufacturers, allow manufacturers to more nimbly respond to global trends, and promote the recirculation of equipment to support environmentally sustainable manufacturing – these goals are even more relevant and critical today than they were 5 years ago.

Moov has hundreds of buyers and sellers, yet there are still roughly 10 million factories globally with unmet equipment needs and surplus equipment for sale. Recent supply chain disruptions and a global chip shortage have only served to accelerate our growth.



Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines? What Are Some Tips You Have For Staying Productive?

Lately, it is hard to think of my days as “typical” since I’ve been doing a lot of traveling between our booming headquarters in Phoenix, our brand new office in Austin, TX, and Northern and Southern California, the location of several industry partners, employees, and investors.

When I’m not catching a flight, my day usually begins with a double espresso shot and a morning workout. I’m a big believer in “healthy body, healthy mind”, so I try to make exercise a part of my daily routine no matter how busy I am. I tend to optimize my mornings toward execution-heavy tasks and deadlines, and tackle creative or strategic thinking in the afternoon.

The role of a CEO is really that of Chief Enabler. I spend a significant chunk of each day in listening mode, getting feedback from my talented colleagues across the company, and identifying ways I can remove roadblocks to their success.



What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

Adaptability, Humility, and Drive.

Advice for entrepreneurs just starting out:

Think about value creation in every interaction you have. Whether you’re hiring employees, raising funds, securing customers or partners, you’ll never go wrong if you approach engagements from a mindset of creating mutual benefit.

Surround yourself with people you trust. Then trust them. As a founder, it’s both incredibly hard and incredibly important to take a step back. In the early days, you will wear every hat for your company. You will set the product roadmap, you will be the chief marketer, you’ll be at every sales meeting, be involved in every deal. You will be a graphic designer, an accountant, heck you’ll even be the office maintenance manager and sometimes IT consultant. Now repeat after me: this won’t scale. An important part of growth is bringing in new talent, new ideas, and trusting the people you hire can do the roles you hired them for better than you can.

Perfection is the enemy of progress. As an entrepreneur, it’s likely someone has already quoted Winston Churchill to you, but it’s time to listen. At Moov, we use the 80/20 rule as a general barometer for problem solving. Solve 80% of the problem now, and the rest will come with time and iteration. I can tell you first hand that if we had worried about perfection at Moov, we would not have grown from zero to a marketplace with over $1bn in GMV in under four years.



Any Other Thoughts You Want To Share Relating To Current Events, The Economy, Political Climate, Or Any Other Topic?

The impact of growing a secondary market for capital equipment cannot be understated – doing so will help solve global supply chain shortages, create jobs in manufacturing hubs across the U.S., and contribute to a more environmentally sustainable high tech manufacturing industry.

As a company, Moov contributes to a more environmentally sustainable manufacturing industry – saving ~1MM lbs of scrap from hitting landfills or sitting idle in warehouses every year. Recirculation of capital equipment is an achievable and important part of the circular economy.


What Does Success Mean To You?

Success, for me and for Moov, means creating something that the world truly needs. At Moov, we don’t use words like disruption because our intention is not to interrupt an industry, but instead to use our humble listening skills, our own experiences in the industry, and the technology we’ve built to create value for our partners and customers. Success, for us, means that every decision we make creates value for all parties involved.

“Changing the world” is an often satirized goal of Silicon Valley founders. But, at Moov, global impact has a very specific meaning. Our goal is to accelerate global manufacturing, R&D, and technological progress by fundamentally improving the supply chain. We are improving the supply chain by making it possible and easy to buy and sell pre-owned equipment from any fabrication center in the world in a matter of moments. When we succeed, our success won’t be localized to Silicon Valley, to the United States, to North America, but will truly drive forward global trade and innovation.

This, for me personally and for Moov as a company, is the meaning of success.

 
- What I Found
Monish Sabnani | Courant

MONISH SABNANI

Co-Founder of Courant, a company that creates beautiful tech accessories that seamlessly integrate into your home and surrounding life.

What Is Courant? Tell Us All About Your Brand, Mission, And Product Selection.

Courant is a design-forward electronics brand with a focus on wireless charging. We create beautiful phone charging accessories that seamlessly integrate into your home and surrounding life. Each product form is designed to be effortless in use and aesthetically pleasing.

We launched in 2018 and have 3 core product forms: CATCH:1, a single-device charger; CATCH:2, a multi-device charger; and CATCH:3, a valet tray charger. We’ve also created two unique collections of materials: our “Classics” collection which features Italian leather and high-grade aluminum, and our “Essentials” collection, which comes with Belgian linen and soft-touch plastic.

Our goal is to power your life and the devices you use most.



What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

Evan (Co-founder) & I met back in 2017 at a consumer goods platform & incubator called “Very Great”. This was an interesting time because the 2 founders of Very Great were looking to expand their portfolio of brands. Together we all got excited about the electronics category, and in particular the trend of wireless phone charging which was starting to emerge across Apple and Samsung products. At the time the technology was incredibly exciting, but there were no brands or really any products that spoke to today’s modern, digitally savvy consumer. The existing marketplace of products were made of plastic, didn’t have a color story, and really no brand appeal whatsoever. At the end of 2017, we began researching opportunities and discovered a wide-open landscape in the wireless charging category to launch Courant into.

We launched Courant’s first two products (CATCH:1 and CATCH:3) in August 2018 at the NY Now tradeshow and have since grown into an eight-figure business. A few weeks after the launch we were prominently featured in Oprah’s “Favorite Things” and Gwenyth Paltrow’s “Goop” holiday gift guides, which really gave us an opportunity to shine on a national level. From there we started building the business, brick by brick. Today, Courant’s products are widely distributed online and in-store at retailers such as West Elm, CB2, Design Within Reach, Best Buy, Bed Bath Beyond, Container Store and more. It’s been an exciting journey!



Who Are Your Co-Founders Or People Who You Work Very Closely With? How Do Their Skills Supplement Yours?

I was raised in Hong Kong with a background in Chinese manufacturing, which my family has been involved in for over thirty years. Evan’s expertise is largely in brand operations for consumer product companies. He calls me the left brain and him the right brain. I mainly oversee our e-comm, marketing & brand, product development and finance. He focuses mostly on sales, international operations, warehousing and legal. By having diversified backgrounds and skill sets we’re able to balance each other out and supplement each other in a way that makes our business stronger. 



What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

The name Courant comes from ‘Au Courant’, a French saying that means “in the know” or “up to speed on current trends”—or literally ‘current’—which is both a reference to an object being relevant to the times as well as an electrical current. We wanted something literal, but not clunky or ‘techy’.



What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

The last few years have truly been so interesting from a macro perspective. COVID in particular was something that we could have never prepared for, especially this early in our career. It came with a multitude of challenges: supply chain disruptions, chip shortages, freight price volatility, labor shortages in the US, and the list goes on…It was (and still is) a steep learning curve on both a professional and personal level. It’s funny, we started off with a mission to create a unique electronics brand, and today we are crisis-level experts on supply chain. I’ve learned all kinds of things that I never expected to. That really is the beauty of the experience. On the flip side, the challenges are taking in all this new information and dealing with it in-real time, at a high-stakes level.


Can You Share Some Insight As To Your Design And Manufacturing Process? What Makes Courant Unique Amongst The Competing Wireless Charging Products On The Market?

We design all of our products in-house, drawing inspiration from interior design concepts and materials used for home accessories like side tables, couches and lamps. We look at everything we do, whether it’s product design, web design, and photo/video styling as an opportunity to stand outside of the traditional ‘consumer electronics’ industry aesthetic. Courant’s design DNA, at its core, is the intersection of technology, interior-design, fashion and “culture”, which we define as modern trends and social movements.

Principal to our product design and development is material selection. We’ve created a layered supply-chain that involves producing materials from both Italy and Belgium, which then get shipped and assembled in China. Our linen supplier is 100% carbon neutral and uses solar power as the primary driver to their facility. Our leather supplier is “Gold-rated”, which is a standard tracking energy and water consumption, as well as worker safety. It’s all very modern and adds extra layers of complexity (and cost), but it is key to what we’re doing. Most tech companies at our scale build products with cheap components, leaving consumers with products that quickly become physically and aesthetically obsolete. We have honed in on aspects such as design, but combine them with modern manufacturing to create products that we ourselves are comfortable with and want to use.


Any New And Exciting Products Launching Soon?

We’re launching our first few magnetic chargers later this summer. The magnetic chargers are very exciting for us as it’s our first foray into a new user experience to pair with Apple’s MagSafe phones (iPhone 12 onwards). We believe this will be the new charging standard for several years and have spent almost 2 years developing our magnetic collection. 


How Has COVID-19 And Recent Supply Chain Issues Impacted Your Business And Operation Over The Last Couple Of Years?

COVID-19 brought on widespread supply chain lock downs and disruption, which meant that we needed to be as flexible and agile as possible in order to survive. The chip shortage of 2020-21 in particular was a big issue for us. We were presented the situation back in March of 2021, which was that our core chip component lead time was going from 1 month to 6 months. We moved quickly to purchase a year's worth of chips upfront and hold stock. As I reflect on that time, we were fortunate to have the advantage of being a small team, which allowed us to make decisions quickly, rather than having to deal with the time-consuming process of a larger corporate hierarchy structure. We also had the financial support of the wider Very Great platform which enabled us to make swift and bold business moves, which might have been too risky otherwise. It’s moments like that which allowed us to sustain and grow our business despite the challenges that COVID-19 threw our way.



Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines? What Are Some Tips You Have For Staying Productive?

We’re both fully remote, which is something we’ve both come to love over time. The mornings and afternoons are typically pretty heavy on calls, i.e. touchbases with the team, working sessions, talking to different vendors and partners. It’s usually in the evening when we both get some down time to work in silence and put our heads down to focus on bigger picture planning. I love the night session - it really is the most productive time for me.

Tips? Honestly, something we’ve come to lean into is that the standard “9-6” work life at a desk is completely over. Everyone has a unique life filled with different responsibilities and priorities. We empower each other and our team to integrate work and life so that they can thrive off of flexibility, not restriction. If you have to make an appointment at 2pm on Monday, please do. We’re both integrating our life and work into one lifestyle, 7 days a week. There is no pressure to be “online” all day. This is a huge unlock and allows us to work on our personal life as much as our professional life.


What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

Perseverance - the road ahead is tough and not for the faint hearted. The #1 thing I’ve learned is to put your head down and push through. The hard work that most people avoid is often the beauty of the job.

Equanimity - Don’t get too high during the highs, and don’t get too low during the lows. Find a cool, calm middle ground and operate in that bubble.

Read, a lot - to quote Charlie Munger: “In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn't read all the time -- none, zero. You'd be amazed at how much Warren reads--and at how much I read. My children laugh at me. They think I'm a book with a couple of legs sticking out.” There is no better way to absorb information than reading.


Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

Getting direct personal feedback on my communication skills both professionally and personally has really helped me grow. Sometimes we don’t want to hear our truth because it is uncomfortable and hurtful. But when you can actively take feedback and grow from your peers I think that is a huge advantage. There is so much to learn about communication skills. I also try to give feedback to the people I care about.


If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

Tim Cook - 1) because Apple is my favorite company of all time and has been since I was a teenager, and 2) because I’d love to personally introduce him to what we’re doing over at Courant.


Who Is Your Role Model?

I would have to share two: Barack Obama, for his grace, and Kobe Bryant, for his work ethic. Both are (were) also incredible parents to their kids, which I have the utmost respect for when you have had the careers that they did.


What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

I love to go for long walks with a podcast in-ear, play basketball, surf in the summers and read as much as possible. What I read: autobiographies (if you have a cool story I want to know about it), and a lot of newsletters, blogs and Twitter threads. I also have a particular interest in web3/blockchain and find everything being built in that space incredibly fascinating. One of my best friends is a partner at Andreesen Horowitz and I’m constantly bugging him with questions. 


What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

“The journey is the reward” - Steve Jobs

We often work so hard towards an end goal and wind up missing everything in between. I really believe that life is not about the big moments, but all the little, unforgettable moments. If you can celebrate the small wins and appreciate the most mundane of tasks I think you’ll find the ultimate happiness. 


Any Other Thoughts You Want To Share Relating To Current Events, The Economy, Political Climate, Or Any Other Topic?

There’s obviously a lot going on right now between inflation, US & China relations, and the crisis in Ukraine. Fundamentally we are the type of people to play the long game. While it’s easy to get frantic over the day-to-day news cycle, we’re very bullish on the future of everything. If that core belief ever changed I would radically change what I was doing on a daily basis. I probably would not be in business. 


What Does Success Mean To You?

Success = flexibility. All too often we want to do things but are restricted. I’ll know I’m successful when I have the ultimate decision making ability to do most things (within reason), whether that be personally or professionally.

  Monish Sabnani’s Favorites Stack:

Books:

1. No Rules Rules- Reed Hastings (CEO of Netflix) on how to build an innovative, disruptive corporate culture

2. Dreams From My Father - Barack Obama’s origin story, written pre politics

3. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike- Phil Knight’s founding story of Nike. A must read for all entrepreneurs

Health & Fitness:

1. Steps, every day. I aim for 8-10K

2. Strength training - I try to get 2 full body workouts in a week

3. Basketball - Pickup in Brooklyn, as much as I can

Brands:

1. Lululemon pants have totally replaced jeans in my life. I wear them everyday

2. Stance long compression stocks 

3. Hoodies, all the time

Products:

1. AirPods Pro

2. Lululemon Black Pants

3. Trader Joes Milk Chocolate Pretzels (!)

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. Leanluxe & 2PM (Ecomm newsletters)

2. All-In Podcast (General macro news & investing)

3. How I Built This (Founder-driven, entrepreneurial storytelling podcast)

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Hawaii surf trip

2. Tel Aviv

3. Buenos Aires

4. Cape Town



- What I Found
Casey Klugman | Les Monts

CASEY KLUGMAN

Founder of Les Monts, a new luxury handcrafted sunglasses company.


What Is Les Monts? Tell Us All About Your Brand, Mission, And Product Selection.

I’ve always had an affinity for handmade goods. To me, there’s warmth that emanates from handmade goods. They have subtle imperfections which make them unique – something you don’t necessarily get from mass-produced products. In light of this affinity, I wanted Les Monts to be a handmade, limited-edition collection. Utilizing an array of handpicked, highly considered materials, Les Monts frames are brought to life by the hands of experienced Italian craftsmen who take great pride in their work.

Les Monts is geared towards creative individuals – specifically those who push the creative boundaries in their respective fields. However, the brand recognizes any individual in pursuit of a lofty personal goal. In French, Les Monts means “the mountains”. As the brand’s namesake, mountains serve as a reminder that good things, like a journey towards a personal goal or the production of our handmade goods themselves, take time to develop. And, while the journey to reach that goal may prove fickle, there is often great value to be found at the finish line. Each of our limited-edition spectacles is a testament to those who have been fearless in their personal endeavors; and, to those who are at the beginning of their journey, a pair can ignite the courage to take that next step.

I think today more than ever, it’s important for a brand to have genuine purpose and good intentions. Throughout my life, there have been a number of important people who have at some point, in some capacity, struggled with their mental health. There are times when I haven’t been in the best headspace, too. So, my decision to partner with Mental Health America was one which came quite naturally. I wanted to honor anybody who has ever been affected by a mental health condition – directly or indirectly. This partnership is important to the brand as anything else. My hope is that Les Monts can transcend traditional brand ideologies, and become a beacon of optimism that inspires.



What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

I was born in New Jersey in the early 90s. My late grandfather, who was a dentist and an amateur artist himself, got me involved in art at a very young age. From elementary school through high school, art was the one subject I really excelled in. At some point in junior high school, I developed an interest in fashion. It started with sneakers - I was collecting “Nike Dunks” at the time. Like eyewear, footwear can tell a story about the person wearing it - I still love that about footwear. As my affinity for sneaker culture grew, I began illustrating sneaker designs and concepts of my own. I had sketchbooks full of illustrations. But, before I left to study Art & Design at the University of Michigan, my father – who I am very close with – gifted me a pair of his vintage sunglasses. For me it was the ultimate heirloom. I cherished these sunglasses – I admired everything about them. From that day forward, I was no longer illustrating sneakers, I was illustrating eyewear. I graduated from University of Michigan – School of Art & Design in the spring of 2014. Shortly thereafter, I accepted a job to design eyewear for Ted Baker. It was an amazing opportunity, and the job I held for five years. But, in the back of my head, I knew my ultimate goal was to one day have my own collection. In October of 2020, I decided the time was “now” and resigned from my day-job. Since then, I’ve been working on bringing my own brand to market, and that vision recently became reality. My brand, Les Monts, went live on April 20th of this year.



What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

One of the coolest parts about starting your own brand is you get to decide what story you want to tell through your products. If there’s a group of people you want to empower, or a cause you’d like to raise awareness for, all of those choices are yours. My late grandmother was born and raised in rural France. Unfortunately, she passed away when I was about 13 years old – long before she and I had the chance to connect on an adult level. There’s a lot happening in my life right now. I’ve just started a business, my girlfriend and I recently moved in together; there are so many conversations I wish I could have with her today. So, I decided to give my brand a French name, to pay homage to my late grandmother. As I mentioned earlier the mountains serve as a reminder that good things, like a journey towards a personal goal or the production of our wearables themselves, take time to develop. And, while the journey to reach that goal may prove fickle, there is often great value to be found at the finish line.



What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

I think what I’ve enjoyed most about this journey is the creative freedom it’s afforded me. I was designing for another brand for 5 years. During that time, I didn’t have full creative freedom. I had to adhere to the vision of another brand. Having the creative freedom to execute my own design vision, and tell a story through my brand has been completely invigorating.

The most challenging part of the journey, and the component I struggled with most, occurred during the first few months on my own. At my former employer, I rarely had downtime in the office. There were many days I’d go into work, put my head down, and not lift it until 6:30pm. I kind of liked that - it always made the day go faster, plus I’d feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. My first few months of self-employment proved to be a major adjustment period. I had to accept to the fact that things were going to move a lot slower – at least initially. Naturally, a project like this takes time to develop. So, going from a very fast-paced environment, to the slow-burning, very early stages of a start-up, was a challenge for me.

The most exciting part of my work has always been receiving samples or the final product. I have a tremendous respect and appreciation for excellent craftsmanship. The craftsmen I work with in Italy are extraordinarily talented. Their handcrafted products are beautifully made. When I receive their products for the first time, there’s a moment of admiration – almost like seeing a piece of art. It’s a moment that never gets old.



Can You Share Some Insight As To Your Design And/or Manufacturing Process? What Makes Les Monts Frames Stand Out Above The Rest?

I think there are two philosophies when it comes to designing and manufacturing. The first is probably the most common – especially in the realm of corporate fashion. This process consists of designing a product, and then modifying it to meet, or increase margin. The other philosophy is the approach I’ve taken with Les Monts. When I started out, I had a vision for what I wanted to produce. Based on my previous work experience, I knew the product I wanted to create would be expensive and require a great deal of expertise to produce. Rather than water down my vision, I said to the factory, “This is the product I want to make. These are the details; these are the materials I want to use. Please let me know how much it will cost to produce a pair, and I’ll figure out what I need to sell it for.” I think if you believe in your product, this is the approach that makes sense. At the end of the day, you want to bring your idea to life. You don’t want to bring 50% of an idea to life. Les Monts spectacles incorporate over 200 steps, and can take nearly a half year to produce. We only produce 100 pieces or less of a given style – which is an extremely limited amount. Many factories will not agree to produce quantities that small. Once a style is sold out, it is no longer produced. We place a very heavy emphasis on the handcrafted nature of our frames; it’s what makes our glasses a cut above the rest. However, the true beauty of a Les Monts frame comes from the fact that it is an imperfect object. When you produce things by hand, there are inherent differences from piece to piece. These differences or imperfections are virtually undetectable to the naked eye, but it’s part of what makes a Les Monts frame an object to be desired. Our frames are not mass-produced objects, cold off of an assembly line. They have a warmth and a story to tell.


Tell Us About Your Go-to Market Strategy. Do You See Les Monts Being Exclusively Sold Online, Or Also Launching Retail Stores Similar To Warby Parker?

For the moment, I am direct to consumer through www.lesmonts.com. However, I will be working hard on getting Les Monts into select stores in the coming months. I’ve designed for other brands in the past. In my honest opinion, Les Monts eyewear looks and feels distinctly different from other eyewear. Because of this, it’s very important that customers have the ability to pick up my products and experience them in person. There’s so much value in that experience. All of our frames are produced in very small quantities, so our eyewear will likely be placed in boutiques and maybe one select retailer. Stay tuned!

Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines? What Are Some Tricks You Use To Stay Productive?

During the week I go to sleep late - around 12:30-1:00am. Because of that, I typically wake-up around 8:20am. I love sleeping in, but that’s about as late as I can sleep during the week. Because I’m communicating with my partners in Italy on a daily basis, and there’s a +6 hour time difference, I can’t afford to sleep past 8:30am. Once, I wake up – it’s an immediate cup of coffee. I then sit at my desk and take care of all urgent emails – prioritizing the emails that are affected by a time difference. Once urgencies are out of the way, I’ll make the bed, shower, and listen to sports talk radio, namely, The Dan Patrick Show. Then it’s back to work until around 12:45, at which point I take my dog for a walk. Then it’s back to work for the rest of the day. I like to get a Peloton session in at the end of the day to clear my head, though admittedly, I’ve been bad about it lately. I do find that it clears my head, even if I get on the bike for 15-20 minutes at the end of the day. For me, the best way I know to stay productive is by setting goals. I like to set goals by the day, week, and month. By constantly setting goals, and hopefully meeting those goals, I feel accomplished and hungry when I wake up each day.




What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

Flexibility - Flexibility is key. Today, the world is changing more rapidly than ever before. As an entrepreneur, it’s never been more important to stay flexible and adaptive. For creative endeavors, the importance of flexibility cannot be underestimated. Rigidity can quickly kill a brand and a product. So, listen to feedback and don’t be afraid to pivot. Let your concepts evolve!

Decisiveness - More is lost by indecision than the wrong decision. When you’re starting out, you’re probably going to make the wrong decision more than once. That’s ok – especially if you’re able to learn from your mistakes. In my experience, indecision always has a more negative impact than a wrong decision. You can take time to make a big decision, but be mindful of how much time you have and then make your decision – don’t prolong it.

Patience - Good things take time to come to fruition. That’s a big part of the branding behind Les Monts. Building a business requires persistence, endurance and patience. It takes a lot of time and effort. So, it’s natural to want results right away – but that’s rarely the case. While you want to remain on top of things, being is key to keeping you emotionally grounded in your project.



Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

There’s an important lesson I’ve learned, actually from loved ones who have passed away. The lesson teaches us that our time here is limited, so we need to spend it doing what we love. I’ll use my late grandmother for example, who, by the way, is part of the inspiration for the name Les Monts. My grandmother, Jo, absolutely adored her grandchildren. Nothing brought her more joy than spending time with us. Sadly, my grandmother fell ill, and passed away before she was able to see her grandchildren reach adulthood. Impermanence is a reminder our time is limited, and we never know when “our time” is going to come. When faced with one of life’s many difficult decisions, I like to think of Jo telling me to go for it. In my experience, knowing that my time is limited sometimes makes those difficult decisions a lot easier.



If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

My top choice would have to be Sir Paul McCartney. I’ve always been inspired by his colorful personality and creative energy. Amazingly, I think Paul still fits the profile of my customer. He’s highly creative and he’s produced music capable of moving emotion. Great music is so powerful. Great music can inspire change, motivate you to start your own business, it can move you to tears and then build you back up. For as long as I can remember, the Beatles’ music has done for me. That’s what I want Les Monts to do for my customer. If my products become a wearable symbol of creativity, or if my brand makes people more comfortable discussing mental health conditions, it will mean that Les Monts has impacted people in an emotional context. That’s my ultimate goal. Since his music has positively and emotionally affected so many people for such an extended period of time, there’s nobody I’d rather meet with than Sir Paul.


Who Is Your Role Model?

I take a lot of inspiration from Philippe Petit, the man who walked a tightrope between the original World Trade towers. He was so focused on his craft and passionate about the process just as much about the outcome. He woke up everyday and ‘got on his wire’, whether it was 2 feet off the ground, or 2,000 feet off the ground. His attention to detail allowed him to perform an act for which the consequence of a single mistake was death. We very rarely engage in activities when a single mistake is certain death. If Philippe has made a misstep above the World Trade Towers, there’s no surviving that fall. While I don’t want to be punished with death for each mistake I make doing the thing I love, I find the clarity to be beautiful in my own relationship to my craft. I highly recommend Man on Wire, watched through the lens of a metaphor and as performance art. 


What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

I’m an artist by trade, so in my free time I love to paint. Painting is a process that has always been extremely cathartic for me. There’s nothing better than putting on music and getting lost in my work for hours. Left to my own devices, I think I would paint straight through the night. For me, it’s the type of hobby I can’t put down after I start. My painting style is very graphic and rather unconventional. If you’re familiar with Banksy, that’s kind of what my paintings look like – though they’re hand-painted rather than spray painted.



What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

The late Steve Jobs made an outstanding commencement speech at the University of Stanford in 2005. In his address to the graduating class, Jobs says:

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road, will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path — and that will make all the difference”.

There is so much power in this quote, because it’s delivered by Jobs shortly after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Conscious of his mortality, Jobs’ words are a uniquely intimate retrospective. His quote suggests that it’s impossible to know whether a decision we make today will yield the results we want tomorrow. Therefore, the best way to persist in the face of doubt is by putting your trust in whatever you personally believe in. Doing so will give you confidence to follow your heart in difficult decisions, even when doubt or uncertainty are pulling you in the opposite direction.

What Does Success Mean To You?

Since starting this project, I’ve noticed a direct correlation between success and happiness. Though, the relationship I see is probably different from what most people would expect. There’s the obvious “Success = Financial Prosperity = Happiness”. I cannot confirm if that’s true. But, I have discovered a different dynamic between success and happiness, which is true for me. At this point in my life, I’m happier with my work than I’ve ever been before. I love what I’m doing – it brings me great joy. I’ve realized that in order for me to continue doing what I love, my business needs to be successful. While the meaning of success can change over time, right now, success to me means an opportunity to continue doing what I love.

  Casey Klugman’s Favorites Stack:

Books:

1. Emotionally Durable Design, by Jonathan Chapman

2. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike, by Phil Knight

3. Open: An Autobiography, by Andre Agassi

Health & Fitness:

1. Peloton

2. Pick-up football with friends

3. Pick-up basketball with friends

Brands:

1. Reiss

2. Theory

3. Nike

Products:

1. Nespresso

2. iMac

3. Dyson Air Purifier

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. How I Built This with Guy Raz

2. The Herd with Colin Cowherd

3. The Dan Patrick Show

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Southern Italy

2. Paris

3. Japan



- What I Found
Brandon Schulz | Violet
Violet-commerce-api-brandon-schulz

Brandon Schulz

Founder of Violet, a Commerce API Platform enabling any app to integrate universal checkout in weeks instead of years.


What Is Violet? Tell Us All About Your Platform, How It Works, And The Types Of Companies That Use Your Services.

Violet is a unified API that allows any online channel (be it an app, a website, a game, or live stream) to connect to a brand or retailer's ecommerce backend without the need for expensive and complex integrations. We call it a “unified API” because our mission is to provide integration with any e-commerce platform through a single, unified API. So whether you’re an online influencer looking to get more purchases directly through your platform, or you’re a brand who wants to sell through more channels, all you’ll need is this API. It’s great for shoppers too because they can purchase from anywhere on the internet, with no clickout. 

Right now we’ve built integrations into leading e-commerce platforms, and are working with a wide range of customers who are creating new and exciting online experiences: influencer platforms, publishers, online shopping marketplaces. 



What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

While Rhen and I started Violet in 2017, I’ve more or less been trying to solve the same problem for over a decade. The question driving my career has always been the same: how can we create a more open, distributed, and collaborative version of e-commerce? Specifically, what would it take for shoppers to be able to buy products directly inside social, livestream, SMS, voice, AR, VR, or any other experience developers and app companies decide to build? I happen to think the answer is Violet, but it took a while to get there.

In 2012, I co-founded a company that was basically a Hootsuite but for e-commerce products. I learned a lot on the job through that project, about how to fundraise, build a good team, talk to investors. That’s also where I first met Rhen Zabel, our Co-Founder and CTO, and Tyler Middleton, our Head of Growth. But e-commerce wasn’t mature enough for something like Violet to work.

After that, I worked for a few other larger companies in retail, and really grew as a manager and a leader. But I never stopped thinking about how to solve the problem of distributed e-commerce. Rhen was in a similar position, tackling related issues for larger companies. At each step of the way, we realized no one was solving the infrastructure layer. Eventually we just realized we had to build it ourselves once and for all and offer it as a platform.



What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

The concept is a little science-y, but it’s based on the color spectrum: violet is the last visible color of light that we can see with the human eye. There are a bunch of different kinds of light waves beyond that, some of which we can see under an ultraviolet light, but violet is the last color you see and touch before you reach a realm of rather magical and unbelievable possibilities.

That’s exactly how our product works: we’re the last interface or infrastructure you see when conducting e-commerce at the edge: and what you see is very simple, elegant and intuitive. But what’s behind that, the backend and coordination and artistry that’s making this very simple, intuitive purchase experience possible remains invisible. You can feel it’s impact in how your purchase experience (or merchant or channel experience) improves, but what you see and interact with is Violet.



Who Are Your Co-Founders Or People Who You Work Very Closely With? How Do Their Skills Supplement Yours?

My Co-Founder is Rhen Zabel, an amazing engineer and innovator who I’ve known for over a decade now. Rhen and I actually share a birthday down to the year (same exact xx/xx/xxxx), which from the beginning felt like a very auspicious sign for how well we’d work together. I love working with Rhen for so many reasons: he’s a brilliant problem solver, and has been coding since he was 12 or 13. So it’s like getting a 20-year engineer still early in his career. He’s also just a very thoughtful person, very passionate about the environment, obsessed with sci-fi. So working with him on one level is easy just because I like him so much as a person.

As a colleague, he brings a lot to the table that compliments what I can do: our product already skews technical, but Rhen is the engineering genius behind our product. He’s incredibly discerning with his words, and has predilections to a certain type of intelligence and long-term focus that are really rare. He keeps me grounded, and is the one ensuring that we’re actually building the product I’m imagining. I often like to say that I’m driving the train, but Rhen’s the one laying the track.


What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

Favorites:

Working with Rhen Zabel: Rhen and I have known each other for over ten years now. It’s so gratifying to build something you believe in with someone who is equally passionate and exceedingly skilled. 

Acquiring new skills at a 10x pace: You can’t not learn rapidly when you’re building your own company. It’s been 4+ years of this and it’s been really fun and invaluable in my own development. I also think that kind of learning is helping our team stay engaged.

Building teams: There’s nothing more exciting than finding people who share in your vision but bring something new to the table. It’s been the best part of the new year by far. 

Making it real: Seeing an idea that I wrote on a whiteboard in middle of 2017 finally come to fruition 4 years later…it’s my ultimate definition of success.

Seeing customers use the API and grow their businesses on it: We’ve had so many meetings with customers where they say something to the effect of “This is the exact solution I’ve been looking for. This can’t be real…” Which is exactly what we love to hear! That’s incredibly affirming and motivating as we keep having more of those conversations, and ultimately seeing our customers succeed. 

The amazing people that I’ve gotten to meet along the way: Fellow founders, investors, new teammates.

The boost from fantastic VCs: Feels so great to meet people who believe in you who are willing to invest in your idea, your dream.

Least-Liked

Being at the mercy of timing: Building something very close to my dream product 4 years ahead of time meant a long wait and long slog to build with Rhen. 

Doubt: The years of people not believing in us, resulting in self-doubt and lonely nights.

The drag from bad VCs: Being misunderstood or underestimated for what we were capable of as a team and a product.

Uphill climb: Our product comes out of a really deep understanding and love for the behind the scenes of e-commerce. We had to lay the groundwork over and over again to explain our product, as the market and understanding of the landscape took years to catch up to where we already were.



What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

Funding was really terrible, until it wasn’t. We really wanted to raise from a VC firm in Seattle, where we’re from. But we didn’t take into account geographical priors and general market structure in Seattle when we set out to do that. So we got no’s from nearly every VC in Seattle. But that work just meeting with everyone eventually paid off, and once we started meeting with the right people it turned around very quickly. After we met the team at RSV (Red Sea Ventures) we then got introduced to Brian Sugar, who introduced us to Lachy Groom. And it just snowballed really beautifully from there to where we had about 45 VCs all showing a high amount of interest, to the point where our seed round was oversubscribed by about $2M. We narrowed it down to the right team, and just 90 days later Klarna made a big strategic investment to speed our growth and lead our Series A.

Since then, we’ve been focused on updating and accelerating our growth strategy quite a bit. Most of our investment now has gone towards automating processes to save time, and building a world class team. Of course there are still features and improvements we’re making to our product all the time, but right now it’s about how we can scale the excellent API we’ve worked hard to build, and reaching all the communities of potential customers we know are out there.


How Has Growth Been Over The Last Year? Any New Products Launching Soon?

Despite the learning curve with hiring, the growth has been phenomenal. It’s been such an exciting year for us. What’s really fun for us is every launch of our product is really someone else’s launch: we get to watch all kinds of online channels and experiences kick off something new in their business. We have one client in particular in stealth right now that we’ve just loved getting to work with. If you come back to us in Q2 we can share some more info there.

But really we’re seeing the reality we envisioned come to life, which is new ways for people to purchase at the edge, with more and more startups expanding into live and curated shopping in lots of new and interesting ways.




What Is One Thing About Building A Business You Did Not Know That You’ve Learned So Far Since Launching Violet?

Many people will tell you that recruiting is the hardest thing you’ll do when you’re starting out. And it’s even harder than they say it is.

I think for some new companies recruiting is hard because of sourcing and closing. We’re fortunate not to have that problem: we find people easily and once they’re in the funnel they’re usually excited to join.

BUT, recruiting does put a huge crunch on our bandwidth. In many ways it’s much harder to go from four to 40 people than it is to go from 40 to 400. I’d tell anyone just starting out that the moment you need to hire more than 15 people, hire a recruiter. I wish someone had said that to me, it would’ve saved a lot of headaches.



How Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Business Both In Terms Of Growth Plans As Well As Day-To-Day Operations? Has The Pandemic Fueled Demand For Violet As More And More Merchants Lean On E-Commerce As Their Main Sales Channel?

COVID has had a huge impact on our business. As most people know just from surviving lockdowns, e-commerce was an industry that did very well in the pandemic. It definitively proved its utility, convenience, and potential. Every company and merchant was forced to prioritize e-commerce, basically compressing what might have been a decade of changes to infrastructure and business models in just 12 months. So what we have now is really the landscape Violet was made to serve, where you have old systems, new systems, incumbents, start-ups all trying to figure out how to sell products in this new marketing landscape. In a marketplace of millions of vendors, how do you get traction? Targeted, direct-to-consumer advertising can only get you so far, especially as regulations are changing to protect privacy. So that’s where our tool becomes vital circuitry in the new distributed model of e-commerce. As we’ve hit our stride with funding, finding customers, and growing our team, it’s proving to be a really exciting moment to be in e-commerce.



How Do You Think Your Industry (Or The World In General) Will Change Post-COVID?

E-commerce has changed significantly during and post-COVID, if we can say that at this point. While we stayed at home, everyone hopped on their computer and bought everything online. We felt this in the out-of-stock notices on websites. We felt this in the three months I waited to get the couch that I purchased. We felt this in the dramatic increase in prices corporations were able to leverage due to the product shortage.

Before the pandemic, e-commerce was still only about 15% of all retail purchases globally. That number increased dramatically, resulting in an acceleration of e-commerce penetration by anywhere from six to ten years. This means that reliance on e-commerce has increased more rapidly than anyone had expected. As a result, the pressure on the underlying infrastructure of e-commerce has increased, revealing the gaps in the ecosystem broadly, as well as in the individual platforms themselves.



Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines? What Are Some Tricks You Use To Stay Productive?

I’m a big believer that we are the things we do repetitively, and don’t really buy into “tricks” for productivity. Instead, I just keep my life very goal-focused, almost treating my own output like I would a product with OKRs: What do I want to accomplish? By when? How can I measure success, and how can I fit those measurements and goals to reasonable time horizons? That may feel a bit on the nose, but it’s how I stay on task.

If I were to recommend a productivity hack, I think it’d be self-compassion. We think of high performers as being hard on themselves, but usually the very best athletes and musicians hold themselves to high standards by default, and the hard work is in understanding how to be kind to themselves and others.

All that said, in addition to work every day I make sure to focus on my mornings:

Wake before 6am

Peloton for 30 min

Stretch for 30 min

Meditate for 20 Min

Journal for 20 Min

These daily routines keep me grounded, energized, and focused on what really matters. 


What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

I don’t think it’s as much about what qualities you have as it is about how you approach being an entrepreneur. So many entrepreneurs today just want to immediately go out there and start a company for the sake of starting a company. I don’t recommend this. Instead, I recommend new entrepreneurs go work somewhere else first, and find the problem they’re most passionate about at that company. Too many people just start things without first understanding their space inside and out. But if you start with the problem you really care about, and learn as much as you can about that problem, you’ll know the biggest pain points for your potential customers and build by far the most compelling companies. This only happens when you’re solving real, concrete problems for people and businesses.

Today, I think the business ventures that will be the most successful will either be very niche, or combinatorial. What I mean by that is, if you look at a company like Figma, they’re solving a very specific problem, and they do it incredibly well. They’re a niche product but with wide adoption in that niche because they really understand their customer. At Violet, we’re kind of the opposite: we’re a combination of e-commerce, plus headless, plus product distribution. We’re this amalgam of other product types that have been around before, but never in this combination. In fact it was the combining of these different features that was such a technical challenge and what makes us so valuable to our customers.

We’re past the days of someone simply standing up a website and making money. The barrier to value is much higher now, and that’s where I’ve seen the best founders today accelerate past others, because they know a particular use case so well, or are able to combine things in a novel way to generate new value.


Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

At the age of 16 I broke my leg twice in two years, and spent three months in a wheelchair. While there were a lot of learning experiences from that, I distinctly remember one incident where I was waiting to use the restroom. The two normal stalls were empty, but the person had chosen the wheelchair accessible stall. I had to wait until they were finished. At first I was furious, and then realized that I had done this very same thing without thinking about it prior to my injury. I was frustrated after three months in a wheelchair for how that experience was overlooked by others: it was eye-opening to think about what it must be like to live a lifetime in different and sometimes more challenging circumstances.

While some things can’t be fully understood until you experience them, one can’t experience everything, and this gap is something I now think about often: How can I constantly strive to empathize with the experiences and challenges of other people, even when I can’t directly experience it myself? One of our core values at Violet is empathy, because we ultimately work better together and build better companies by being able to consider other peoples’ viewpoints. Sure, we can’t always completely understand the experiences of those around us–but that’s precisely why we always try.



If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

Without hesitation, Barack Obama. Regardless of your politics, I feel it’s like living during the time of Abraham Lincoln and not wanting to at least sit down with them. The version of the world Barack Obama stepped into, the problems he’s faced as an individual and a leader, are in combination unprecedented. And so there are just insights, experiences, and wisdom from that that I couldn’t get from anyone else. I’d need at least an hour to talk to him about his career and life’s work.


Who Is Your Role Model?

I take a lot of inspiration from Philippe Petit, the man who walked a tightrope between the original World Trade towers. He was so focused on his craft and passionate about the process just as much about the outcome. He woke up everyday and ‘got on his wire’, whether it was 2 feet off the ground, or 2,000 feet off the ground. His attention to detail allowed him to perform an act for which the consequence of a single mistake was death. We very rarely engage in activities when a single mistake is certain death. If Philippe has made a misstep above the World Trade Towers, there’s no surviving that fall. While I don’t want to be punished with death for each mistake I make doing the thing I love, I find the clarity to be beautiful in my own relationship to my craft. I highly recommend Man on Wire, watched through the lens of a metaphor and as performance art. 


What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

I really like cycling, I read a lot of nonfiction, and I try to make a point of keeping up with all the Oscar-nominated films on an annual basis. But honestly, I love to learn new things and more often than not I’m applying that energy to my work. It doesn’t feel like work for me though. For me, it’s fun to spend a few hours on a weekend getting really proficient at a new tool that could help our company, because a) I’m learning something new and b) I’m working towards something I’m endlessly passionate about.

I’ve often thought it’s strange that we don’t make the same kinds of boundaries for hyper focused, dedicated artists and high performers like we do for other vocations. Like, no one would ever criticize John Mayer or Prince for playing guitar too much in their off hours, or Sue Bird for practicing on her evenings or weekends. For me, this is my craft, this is my sport. I’ve pursued other passions like music but now this is my focus, it’s what I love to do. While, I like to read and get outside like many people, I spend a great deal of my time just trying to get better at the thing I love. 



What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

“Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

– Rainer Maria Rilke


Any Other Thoughts You Want To Share Relating To Current Events, The Economy, Political Climate, Or Any Other Topic?

I stand with Ukraine.

What Does Success Mean To You?

Doing what you set out to do.

  Brandon Schulz’s Favorites Stack:

Books:

1. The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt . This book changed my mind about whether people can change their minds. We are less rational than we think we are. And this book presents the foundation for this based on Moral Psychology. At the root of moral psychology is the way by which any one of us decides to do or not do something regardless of explicit rules. I found this book to be enlightening in understanding my own brain, as well as the way others come to make decisions and behave in our ever increasingly complex world.

2. Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. I love this book. It is a gorgeous metaphor of the magic that happens when a team locks in. It’s about a rowing crew from the University of Washington (roughly 30 min from where I live). There’s a concept in rowing called ‘swing’ that almost feels like flying over the water. It happens when everyone is pulling in the same direction, completely in sync, as a result of a kind of unification that arises out of the body of a hull with 8 individual humans catapulting forward. I want to feel this in the teams I build. The book talks through the ups and downs of the coach, the individuals, the team, and how we bring all of who we are into our boats every day. 

3. Self-Compassion by Krista Neff. Self-Compassion is about what you might expect, compassion towards oneself. It’s not a soft or wishy washy book, but one that challenges the kinds of toxic cultures we’ve inherited that we likely don’t even know are running through our brains. A lot of this book was about slowing down some of the connections my brain was making that I wasn’t even aware of. Our synapses fire so fast, and the grooves are so strong, that we rarely have the language and practices to stare at them, and evaluate whether the appropriate level of intelligence and wisdom has been integrated into the way we perceived something, how we talk to ourselves, or whether our assumptions about a situation or our performance are accurate or fair at all. 


Health & Fitness:

1. Peloton. Love my Peloton, as I love cycling. My standard approach is to use ‘Just Ride’ and listen to a podcast or book while riding to a particular cadence or output I’m wanting to work on over a period of time.

2. 12 min body weight circuit heavy on strict pull ups (Cross Fit-inspired, WOD style). I try to focus on pull ups as the core exercise involving a lot of different muscles at once, with other movements wrapped in. With our bodies, we have to use it or lose it!

3. Mud WTR. Healthy mushrooms and a bit of caffeine have been more sustainable for me.


Brands:

1. Apple: Of course.

2. Rapha: I have more Rapha gear than any one human being should own.

3. NIKE: Pretty much everything else.


Products:

1. Airpods Max

2. Smart Sweets

3. Ollipop


Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. The Ezra Klein Show. Especially love Ezra’s deep dives into productivity, attention, and parenting. 

2. Hidden Brain. Fascinated by behavioral economics.

3. Masters of Scale. Yep.


Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. London (my favorite city)

2. Montana (for some summer fly fishing with my partner’s family)

3. Krabi, Thailand (favorite beach)



- What I Found
Elliot Cao | Hast
elliot-cao-hast-cooking-knives

ELLIOT CAO

Founder of Hast, a company that designs tools to help make cooking easier, more predictable, and more fun.


What Is Hast? Tell Us About Your Brand And Mission.

Hast is created to bring high-performance, design centric kitchen tools that energize and excites cooking. With forward-looking, functional, and intuitive design, Hast reduces the weight and seriousness of high-performance knives so that you can focus on the creative part of cooking.

We believe cooking is crucial to society, cultural and sustainability. There is an artist in everyone, and cooking is the artistry everyone can pursue and start whenever.

Our mission is to get more people to cook, cook more and have more fun cooking.



What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

Before starting Hast, I have been creating brands, mostly for large corporations. I have been working in marketing and branding consultancy in firms and brands such as Weber Shandwick, Future Brand and Nivea.

My interest in material science led me to work with a startup pioneering in innovative alloy in cutlery which then got me into the world of knives and knife production. After seeing some many knives (designs), I still couldn’t find a knife I am proud to own, a knife of uncompromising performance, and good design with meaningful & essential details, and does not cost a fortune. Knives in the market are either traditional and serious, or aggressive in design (look) but not comfortable to use, or those flashy colorful cheap knives sets.

Like many makers and entrepreneurs, I was ignorant and brave enough to give the design a try which then led to the journey of exploring and testing dozens of steels, production and performance tests, and launching a crowdfunding campaign.



What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

We want a registrable brand name that can reflect our design principle (simple, universal, timeless). The name Hast is from Swedish, meaning speedy/fast. It also means “have” in Old English. The name reflects our function-focused, minimalist design approach, and the chef’s mindset: focused, creative, and present.



What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

I like make things that make positive impact, and I am quite proud that Hast knives have become the go-to knife of many home chefs who purchased many brands. Customer feedbacks like this get me excited:

“As a professional chef of 40yrs I can say last year I purchased 3 new chef knives. Misen, Hast and another high end I cannot remember. Point? I reach for Hast every time . It's lighter than the rest and now I'm noticing it stays the sharpest. I give it a surprising A+”-Jack Petronella

The least-liked part is that you have to deal with all the setbacks, challenges and stay positive. 

The most challenging moment is pushing for high-quality production when everything was delayed in 2020. We are few months behind our planed delivery schedule, and we couldn’t give accurate estimation of delivery. 

The most exciting moment is when we shipped the orders to our ealy backers. I am very grateful for the Kickstarter community for their support and trust, and I am very happy we can deliver knives they like. 




Can You Share Some Insight As To Your Manufacturing Process? What Makes Hast Knives Unique In Terms Of Design And Technology?

Making great knives are just like cooking great steak. Prime meat is essential, but just part of the success. The performance of kitchen knives is limited by the steel, the harder the steel, the sharper the knife can be, but at the same time, more difficult to produce. And the knife can be difficult and specific too, especially with ultra-hard high-carbon steels. The production process also affects the knives performance largely. The steel will determine the geometry limits of the knife, hence cutting performance, as well as the production process. The harder the steel is, the slower the process. Heat and cold treatment, and heat produced during the manufacturing process will also change the hardness and strength of the steel, and performance of the knife.

Our differentiation of design came from our function/experience-first design principle. We want to design a good knife, then an impressive design. Every detail of Hast knives is kept because it serves a better function or user interaction. It weights light your hand and feels light to your eyes and mind. It’s an easy and effortless tool.

It’s subtle but different with details you appreciate more after using it for a while. The design removes the feeling of a tool, let you feel just you cook and create.

Hast Edition series knives have achieved the highest sharpness and edge-retention (durability) standard, 116% above the highest industry standard (Catra Excellent standard)

Hast Edition series knives are made of patented Matrix powder steel, a steel with great balance of hardness, yield strength and corrosion resistance. (Typically for knives, harder steel means sharp but fragile and easy-rust knives.) The achieve optimal performance from the steel, we need to test optimize the production process. We did multiple test-production test even before we ran our Kickstarter campaign.


How Has Growth Been Over The Last Year? Any New Products Launching Soon?

We are going to launch a new knife line featuring the same minimalistic design with premium Japanese high-carbon stainless steel from leading cutlery steel manufacturer JFE.

It will be the MacBook Air to our current Edition Powder steel line. We are currently testing the steel and adjusting the production processes for the best possible performance. We will also run lab test and kitchen-using test with chefs before we finalize the production standard.

How Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Business Both in Terms Of Growth Plans As Well As Day-To-Day Operations? How About Recent Supply Chain Issues- Has This Impacted Hast At All?

It has dramatically affected our business, especially the manufacturing. We have to closely monitor and work with our manufacturing partner. The pandemic made it almost impossible at the beginning. It also makes it very difficult to have off-line meetings with clients, partners, and customers.

The supply chain issue made shipping more expensive, and unpredictable. One of our shippings had to wait in a port for more than a month before loading.



How Do You Think Your Industry (Or The World In General) Will Change Post-COVID?

I think people are exposed more to cooking and their kitchen. When you get into cooking more, you will realize that good knives and other cooking tools are very important to cooking, just like instruments to artists.



Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines? What Are Some Tricks You Use To Stay Productive?

I typically get up 8:30 and get to the office around 9am. I will have my first cup of coffee around 10. I have a light lunch (chocolate, nuts, or some simple protein).

I finish around 7pm and have a full meal for dinner. I will make some calls and working on emails after my dinner break.

I go to gym around 4 times a week. 2 days in the week and 2 in the weekend.

Gym/training is a great routine for me to keep my energy level and stay focus. It offers incremental progress that you are in total control. The sense of progress is critical to keep a positive mindset when work is challenging and unpredictable.



What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

In-depth understanding of the product.

Engineering and design mindset.

Good communicator of product and vision of the company.

My advice is that you should only invest in ventures that you have a passion for.



Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

I once treated myself from an allergy induced blackout on a train without medicine, by applying basic physics and biology. I used cold water (to drink and rinse) to cool my body and reduce my body’s allergic reaction.

I think the lesson is that you need stay calm to come up with the better solution possible and there always solutions to make the reality better.



Any Thoughts You Want To Share Relating To Current Events, The Economy, Political Climate, Or Any Other Topic?

I believe we are in an era of major transitioning: transitioning to sustainable energy, energy independence and abundance; Transitioning to Autonomous technology with AI, Robotics; transitioning to better living with genome sequencing & therapeutics. These transitioning will change human race fundamentally in the form of economy, politics, and culture.

In any form of transitioning, there will be mistakes, chaos, pain, and suffering, especially for those who are in disadvantage. I think self-care is utterly important. Cooking can play a much important role in self-care and taking care of those we love. Cooking will be a bigger part of our living and culture in the technology advanced, abundant era when everyone is an artist.



If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

I think I’d like to hang out with Elon Musk. He is a true entrepreneur & engineer, a cool, kind and host person and he has been creating fundamental positive changes to humanity. And I am also a techno fan.



Who Is Your Role Model?

Elon Musk and Steve Jobs


What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

I cook quite often. I try to cook recipes from different cultures. I experiment and try to understand the fundamentals of different cuisine. I bring my own interpretation to recipes and sometimes it works great.

I am into art, design, movie, and music. I watch movies of different language and cultures to have sense of perspective of living beyond my experiences.

I train regularly. I am also a certified Les Mills RPM (cycling) instructor.


What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

“Physics is the law, everything else is a recommendation.”

It’s quite true. It helps to separate opinions from facts, and we should always question opinions.



What Does Success Mean To You?

Making the best of you and making positive impact to your family, community and wherever you can reach.


  Elliot Cao’s Favorites Stack:

Books:

1. The Outlier

2. The Crowd

3. Steve Jobs

Health & Fitness:

1. Cross-training-weight & cardio

2. RPM (stationary cycling)

3. Pilates

Brands:

1. Uniqlo

2. Prada

3. Adidas

Products:

1. Hast Knives, I drink a glass of water with fine-sliced lemon and Himalaya salt every morning.

2. iPhone 13 Pro and MacBook Pro

3. Freitag backpack

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. HubermanLab podcast (health, nutrition, longevity, science)

2. Breaking Points

3. Dave Lee Investing (good take on Tesla and other Tech companies)

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Texas

2. Italy

3. Portugal


- What I Found
Peter Marler | Robin Golf

PETER MARLER

Co-Founder & CEO of Robin Golf, a company that makes buying premium golf clubs easier and more approachable so that more people can start swinging.


What Is Robin Golf? Tell Us About Your Brand, Your Mission, And What Makes Your Products Unique.

We're a family business (female & LGBT founded) that's passionate about bringing accessibility and diversity to golf.  We make the highest quality sets of clubs on the market for new and casual players  - women, men, and juniors.  Very simple purchase process, no jargon, no confusion. 


What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

Most people assume that since I started a golf company that I’m an avid or highly skilled golfer, Neither is true and that’s a big part of the reason Robin was started.  

I co-founded the company with my brother Andrew (a former D1 collegiate player), and my sister-in-law Ali (a new/casual player).  They joined me in Los Angeles in 2017 and in short order  Andrew invited us to play golf with him at his new golf club.   At the time I was using a garage sale set and Ali was using an entry level discount set, neither of which felt appropriate for our debut at the club.  

Ali and I went to a major golf retailer in LA to buy new sets and both had terrible experiences for different reasons.  For me, I was overwhelmed by choice, price, and jargon.  The pro was asking me things like “what loft do you want in your driver” and “what flex to you prefer in the shaft,” which I didn’t know the answers to.  In the end, the set he put together for me came to about $3,500. He then brings Ali into the back of the store and shows her one set of pink clubs and one set of purple clubs.  We both left the store frustrated - me feeling taken advantage of and Ali feeling patronized.  

We asked Andrew what the Warby Parker equivalent of golf was and he told us it didn’t exist.  In confirming this, we found that the major golf brands cater predominantly to avid, skill biased golfers, who overwhelmingly tend to be affluent, white, men.  Meanwhile, the fastest growing groups in the sport were ones that were typically left out of the narrative - women, people of color, juniors, and millennials/gen z.  

That’s when the idea for Robin Golf came about.  Robin was started with the goal of creating accessibility, diversity, and inclusion in golf.  We launched by releasing a line of golf sets, but we see that mission applying to many different categories in golf and beyond.



What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

We had originally named the company Marler Golf, but since our mission was to democratize golf it felt a bit pretentious to name it after ourselves.  Also we had several foreign friends tell us that our last name is difficult to understand/pronounce if English is your second language.  

So we renamed the company Robin which signifies a few things.   First, the bird symbolizes the coming of spring and a sign of good things to come.  Second, Robin fits in nicely with the bird vernacular of golf (e.g. birdie, eagle, albatross, condor).  


What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

I’ve had many favorite parts of the journey, but I’ve enjoyed ideating and creating Robin’s culture the most.  It’s been fun and rewarding to think about commonly held practices in American work culture and asking “is there a good reason to keep doing it this way?”  For example, we implemented a 4-day work week after being inspired by the Icelandic study on its benefits.  I get really energized when I get to think about how we can use Robin as a tool to create positive experiences for our employees, customers, and community.  

My least favorite part is the admin work that comes along with having a small team.  Things like accounting, expenses, taxes, and other paperwork.  Hopefully I won’t have to spend so much time doing those things in the not so distant future.  


Tell Us About Your Co-Founders And How Their Skills Supplement Yours.

I co-founded the company with my brother and my sister-in-law.  Thankfully we’re really close and we all have complementary skills so it’s worked out nicely.  That being said, we have invested in an executive coach so that we can more effectively navigate our work lives and personal lives intertwining.  There have been times where work disputes spill over into our personal lives and it’s never fun when that happens.  


What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

Fundraising has been a trip. Surprisingly, it was way easier for us to raise money when we were just a pitch deck and an idea than it has been after launching and finding success in our first 18 months. I think when you’re pre-launch investors get excited about the possibility of what you will build, whereas after launch the focus is on KPI’s which vary greatly by investor. We’ve raised money from angels and family offices thus far, but we’re in the process of raising our seed round which looks like it may contain our first institutional check.


How Has Growth Been Over The Last Year? Any New Products Or Categories Launching Soon?

We got somewhat lucky in that golf exploded during the pandemic. When golf courses opened up around May 2020 our products just started flying off the shelves, which continued through 2021. We 5x’d our top line 20-21 and expect to do the same in 2022 (assuming no more significant supply chain disruptions).

We’re launching several new products this year including a 13-club set, balls, and accessories. Our goal is still to keep our product selection highly curated and simple to understand.

Ultimately our goal is to bring accessibility and inclusivity to a sport that has historically lacked those values. We have a larger vision with regard to that mission that could extend beyond golf in the future.



How Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Business Both in Terms Of Growth Plans As Well As Day-To-Day Operations? How About Recent Supply Chain Issues- Has This Impacted Your Ability To Keep Up With Demand On The Manufacturing Or Shipping Side Of Things?

We launched the week of the shut down and thought we were completely screwed. Thankfully golf was one of the only things that you could do while safely socially distanced so the sport exploded in 2020-2021.

Similar to many ecommerce companies though we were affected by the supply chain issues. Lead times have ballooned and it’s always frustrating to see our container ships idling at the port of LA for weeks at a time. I’d like to think that the situation is improving but I haven’t seen any evidence of that yet unfortunately.

Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines? What Are Some Tricks You Use To Stay Productive?

I hate working out in the morning so the only thing I do other than shower and brush my teeth is stretch. Apparently I’m at that age where my lower back hurts all the time and I never was very good about stretching until it became absolutely necessary.

As for staying productive through the day I’m a big fan of taking many small breaks. I’ll usually take a walk, read a few pages of my book, listen to a podcast segment, or get sucked into Tik Tok (I’m desperately trying to reduce my Tik Tok time in 2022).

I try to workout in the evening, but I’ve definitely become less regimented about it during the pandemic. I love cooking so I’ll typically try to cook for myself and my husband rather than ordering from Postmates.

I almost always end the day with a dry martini.


What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

Tenacity - I was listening to the How I Built This interview with Brian Armstrong from Coinbase and he said that someone once told him that entrepreneurship is moving from one setback to another with enthusiasm.  That made me laugh and really resonated with my journey so far.  

The ability to zoom out - sometimes I get so wrapped up in the challenges I’m facing at work that I forget to take a step back and remember that they’re rarely as catastrophic as I’m making them.  In those moments I remind myself that I have my health, wonderful family and friends, food, and shelter, so it’s not going to kill me if someone doesn’t get their golf clubs on time.  That practice is harder than it sounds, but I do my best. 

Self-kindness - I think starting a company humbles you really quickly because it shows you just how little you actually know.  Many people ask if going to business school was a prerequisite to starting a company and I think it helps about 5%, but really the crux of building a business seems to be having strong convictions about the problem you’re solving followed by a ton of trial and error.  I tend to be very self-critical, but I’m learning to cut myself some slack and practice more self-kindness.  I’ve embraced the famous Thomas Edison quote - “I have not failed. I've just found ten thousand ways that won't work.”



Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

In a job I had prior to starting Robin, for the first year I was convinced that I was going to get fired. Not for any specific reason, I just felt very underqualified for the role and my imposter syndrome was severe. I spent the better part of that year complaining to my dad about how I just knew I was going to let go. He was such a good sport about it - he spent about 11 months saying all the right things to make me feel better.

One day after work I called him with this same sob story and I think he had had enough of my whining. Instead of replying with the usual “I’m sure that’s not true etc.” he just says “Oh for f’s sake Peter, SO WHAT?” The reply caught me off guard at first, but then he continued: “So what if you get fired? You’re a highly educated white male with no kids. You might have to update your resume and find a new job. And if we assume the absolute worst case scenario: you lose your job, can’t get a new one, your husband leaves you, and you get thrown out of your house, you can always come back home and annoy us in person until you figure your life out. This is not a real problem, so STOP complaining about it.”

He was absolutely right of course. It was the best reality check I’d ever gotten and I think about him saying that every time I encounter a problem that I think is insurmountable.



If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

I’m going to cheat and say two - Julie Andrews and John Cleese.  They’re iconic and their movies and TV shows have brought me so much joy throughout my life.  


What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

Play tennis, pickleball (which I’ve recently become obsessed with), and golf (badly). 

I love to cook and make cocktails so I try to do those as frequently as possible. 

I’m a big movie guy so I watch as many as I can in my spare time (especially horror movies) 

Reading and board games. 



What Does Success Mean To You?

I’ve been thinking about this question a lot lately, because to me entrepreneurship feels like a series of failures punctuated by brief moments of feeling like you may have done something right.  

To me success is effortlessly acknowledging and feeling joy each day.  I think the things that we think will bring us joy are often misleading, or at least that was my takeaway from the movie Blank Check.

The times in my life where I’ve felt the most joy are ones in which I felt confident in my life’s purpose and supported and loved by those around me.   

Alternatively, I once heard Tom Ford say that success is being able to take a nap after breakfast, so maybe I just shoot for that.  

  Peter Marler’s Favorites Stack:

Books:

1. Delivering Happiness - Tony Hsieh

2. Let My People Go Surfing - Yvon Chouinard

3. Kane and Abel - Jeffrey Archer

Health & Fitness:

1. Shred App

2. Peloton (I don’t cycle, but I like their fitness classes)

3. Kos Vegan Protein

Brands:

1. Allbirds

2. Buck Mason 

3. Eberjey (just got their PJ’s for Christmas and I never want to take them off)

Products:

1. Hendrick’s Gin

2. Cardon SPF face moisturizer

3. Noise cancelling Airpods

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. Lean Luxe newsletter

2. How I built This podcast

3. Unexplainable podcast

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Patagonia

2. Portugal

3. Turkey


- What I Found
Michael Kopko | Pearl Health

MICHAEL KOPKO

Co-Founder & CEO of Pearl Health, a company enabling primary care practices to thrive by compensating providers for improving their patients’ health.


What Is Pearl Health? Tell Us About Your Company, How It Works, And What You Do Differently.

Pearl Health is fixing healthcare by enabling primary care doctors to transform their work with value-based care, starting with Medicare’s Direct Contracting program. To do this, we’re building the most trusted platform for enabling primary care providers to bear and capture value from risk while delivering life-improving care to their patients. As a technology-first company, we offer a physician enablement platform, alongside our risk marketplace, that will help physicians manage patients’ total cost of care. 

We’re excited to release the first iteration of the Pearl Platform in the first quarter of 2022, aimed at enabling physicians to decide how to deliver better patient care at a lower cost — while capturing more value for themselves. This includes: 

Easy-to-understand financial reporting and payments management

Strategic visibility into patient panel health

Dedicated expert support to ensure success 

In contrast to the flurry of acquisitions of physician practices by health systems, PE groups, and other self-purported physician enablement companies, at Pearl Health, we aren’t seeking to have greater control over practices. We offer a clear alternative to those providers who wish to remain independent, instead giving them greater access to economics that are more in line with the value that they generate for the healthcare industry. We believe that primary care providers can best serve their patients when they’re allowed to remain independent. At Pearl Health, we aim to enable and empower them to take that opportunity — and to take a bet on themselves. 



What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

I grew up in central Connecticut, and I was raised in an extremely entrepreneurial and hard-working family. I caught the entrepreneurial bug early, starting my first business in 3rd grade: selling magazines. It was fun to help my classmates — a fun-loving and rapidly expanding salesforce — generate more than their lunch money. This was a great experience that taught me how aligned incentives and teamwork are the lifeblood for a rapidly growing business. I worked hard with my Mom on weekends, spending hours building pricing catalogs and tools to help our salesforce grow. It’s probably fair to say that my Mom was my first co-founder.

As I got older, I was lucky to be the first member of my family to earn a spot in an Ivy League university, Harvard — a point of pride for my family. After Harvard, my luck continued, and I went straight to Columbia Business School after receiving the Feldberg Fellowship.

After business school, I had the opportunity to work at Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world, where I led a team of 60 hedge fund researchers and reported to Ray Dalio, its founder and co-Chief Investment Officer, and Greg Jensen, its CEO and co-CIO. My time at Bridgewater taught me how to tackle big problems with smart, committed people.

From Bridgewater, I joined Oscar Health with several other Bridgewater alums and Josh Kushner, a serial entrepreneur and now world-class investor whom I met at Harvard. When we first met, funnily enough, Josh offered to invest in a startup that I founded in college. This time around, we were intent on making the collaboration happen, and I’m grateful that we did.

Helping build Oscar from a team of 20 people to a publicly-traded company gave me the opportunity to have some of the coolest and most educational experiences of my career. It also gave me incredible insight into our healthcare system. My fantastic team and I were responsible for distributing Oscar’s health plans across the country, then building complete networks to serve them. After that, I managed the Oscar’s largest P&L — greater than $2.5bn — to help make Oscar more sustainable.

My time at Oscar reaffirmed the critical lesson that incentives matter — and, more specifically, that we had devalued our primary care layer in healthcare across the country. It was sad to see, but it hinted at a huge opportunity.

When I learned of Direct Contracting, a new and innovative model out of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation and I met with the team at AlleyCorp — including Kevin Ryan, Jeff De Flavio, and Ankit Patel — I felt that we were on the precipice of a huge idea that was going to make a national impact. Pearl was born shortly thereafter.

What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

Pearl Health is a reference to the notion of “clinical pearls”, which are small bits of free-standing, clinically relevant information based on experience or observation. They’re part of the vast domain of experience-based medicine, and can be helpful in dealing with clinical problems for which controlled data do not exist.

We’re helping doctors focus on this irreplaceable impact that only they can provide, and we’re striving to free them from the burdens that currently overrun their lives.

I also love the idea of how a pearl forms in nature — the beautiful result of irritants around it. It’s a great metaphor for the contribution we’re trying to make in healthcare.


What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

I deeply enjoy bringing people together to solve hard problems that make the world a better place.

At Pearl, I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to do exactly that. We’re building a team of world-class talent, and we’re laser-focused on making healthcare more sustainable. Every member of the team shares a deep-seated passion for making an impact and building something great. I personally never feel like I’m working when building Pearl with our team. Instead it feels like we’re assembling a big orchestra that will produce beautiful, incredible things for the people around us. It’s been magical to watch it unfold.

Our best moments have been meeting with physician practices across the country and introducing them to the power of Pearl and the future of a value-oriented healthcare system. I love meeting our clients and building relationships with new ones. I think the best clients challenge us to improve and get better, which helps create a virtuous cycle. Needless to say, primary care doctors are remarkable people. They genuinely care about their patients, and they’re working hard to find new sources of value for their patients, their staff, and themselves.

I don’t have a least favorite part in entrepreneurship. I genuinely love solving problems at scale — and with the right team and resources. Being an entrepreneur somewhat guarantees that you won’t have all those preconditions, so it forces you to be creative and inventive with less. I think that push can generate creativity and innovation, which I love.

If anything, I empathize a lot with the obstacles that our clients face. So much about our current system gets in the way of what they want to be doing most: caring for their patients. The flipside of that is the incredible opportunity that we have to help doctors — real-life unsung heroes – deliver better healthcare at a lower cost, making both them and their patients happier and better off.



Tell Us About Your Co-Founders And How Their Skills Supplement Yours.

Jeff De Flavio brings a ton of clinical experience, having launched other companies in the healthcare space focused on making peoples’ lives better. He’s founder of Groups: Recover Together, the national leader in value-based care for treatment of opiate addiction. Jeff earned his MD from Dartmouth College of Medicine, along with his MBA from Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Most importantly, Jeff is a relentless optimist, and sees every stumble in the road as an opportunity for a new path.

Ankit Patel brings lots of healthcare policy experience, previously as a Senior Advisor at CMS Innovation Center, where he worked on different value-based payment models, including the Pioneer ACO program and Maryland All-Payer Waiver. Most recently, Ankit led Provider Alignment at Clover Health, building programs and software to engage providers to achieve better health outcomes at lower costs. He started his career as a healthcare attorney for an academic medical center, after earning his BA in International Studies at University of South Carolina - Columbia and his JD from UNC at Chapel Hill. Ankit is a hustler at heart, who tries to see opportunity in challenge and won’t be fooled by healthcare nonsense. He also likes to give hot takes, which the team finds refreshing and engaging.

Kevin Ryan is one of the great entrepreneurs of our time, having built game-changing businesses across a breathtaking variety of industries. At Pearl, we feel lucky to find ourselves alongside the likes of MongoDB, Gilt Group, Zola, Nomad Health — all of which benefited from Kevin’s energy and intensity, which I absolutely love. I deeply value that Kevin has been both an operator and an executive, and I admire his incredible focus, drive, and desire to live life to the fullest. I enjoy spending time with Kevin, and always find myself incredibly impressed by his vision.


What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

The fundraising process for Pearl was extremely exciting and stimulating. It came with highs and lows, but ultimately resulted in a wonderful set of partners to join us on our journey — and enabled our team with the resources to accelerate and propel our vision and the future of value-based care forward.

We started by doing pitches to prospective investors. We were also having our first team retreat at this point, so the whole company had the chance to listen to the pitch, which seemed like a special experience to share with our early crew. I had been at Oscar for a very long time, but I had never had the chance to see a fundraising pitch. Sharing that with our first ten team members seemed like a fun, remarkable start in our commitment to transparency and inclusion.

We ultimately decided to move forward with Andreessen Horowitz and Vineeta Agarwala, MD. That process was incredibly special, as we had many great firms who wanted to support us. After meeting with Vineeta, her team, and Marc Andreessen — and, really, the entire a16z healthcare team and many of their partners — we were convinced that we had a very special community and platform to build Pearl within. The a16z team have been exceptional partners, every step of the way.

We were also extremely fortunate to have Kevin Ryan and AlleyCorp participate in our Series A fundraise. The AlleyCorp team is incredibly supportive and dedicated to the future of healthcare, and has expanded our thinking at every interaction.

We will be using our funds to accelerate product development, continue to build out our team of world-class talent, accelerate growth and expansion, and help facilitate and support our physicians to succeed in value-based care models as they make this shift.


How Has Growth Been Over The Last Year? Anything Exciting Launching Soon?

We’re loving it and have exceeded our own expectations. At the start of 2022, nearly 10,000 lives will be managed by more than 100 doctors through our physician enablement platform across 51 ZIP codes in 13 states.

For 2023, we will expand significantly, focusing first on increasing density in existing markets to help us provide even more resources to our PCP partners to help them deliver better care at a lower cost.

Looking forward, we’re building a marketplace that connects providers and payors in risk-based arrangements, where providers can increasingly bear and capture value from risk and transform their practices to value-based care. We’re actively building partnerships to realize this vision.


How Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Business And Operation? Have There Been Any Significant Changes Over The Last Few Months As Things Have Gotten Better Overall?

COVID-19 was horrible for our country in so many ways. Our team rallied to find the silver lining during those difficult times, and we invented new ways to find and hire great people — you can work with us anywhere! COVID-19 also served as a forcing function for solving important physician problems, like the challenge of decreased in-office visits on primary care practice’s finances, while also not losing the humanity and personality that’s required to build a human-first healthcare business.

We’re excited to have incredible talent across the country — and the world(!) — join us on our mission. A remote-first culture has enabled us to have a broader set of perspectives at the table than a geographically-focused organization, which I see as a competitive advantage.

As COVID-related conditions have improved, we’ve seen a growing desire for our team and our clients to come together, and we’re developing systems and strategies to enable that collaboration and togetherness safely.



How Do You Think Your Industry Or The World In General Will Change Post-COVID?

COVID-19 demonstrated the fragility of our healthcare system and the ways in which we take for granted the providers that make it run. We need to empower and support them more effectively going forward, and part of that is helping them realize a greater portion of the value that they bring to the healthcare system. For too long, individual primary care providers have been kept at a distance from bearing risk and capturing downstream value that they create for our healthcare system. Instead, rewards from shared savings line the pockets of insurance companies, health systems, groups, or whoever else disintermediates doctors from risk. Or, perversely, fee-for-service incentives have been aimed at rewarding volumes of activities, instead of outcomes, disincentivizing doctors from making meaningful connections that don't neatly fit into maniacally managed schedules. This has to change, and it starts with changing the way we recognize the value that individual doctors create. The first step is giving them back their autonomy and time, and that starts with fixing their incentives.

COVID-19 also underscored the challenges of running critical healthcare systems without integrated data infrastructure or, even worse, with paper-and-pen processes. It’s been hard to effectively operate in any industry, and it was especially true in healthcare. When it comes to helping to keep their patients healthy, one of the biggest obstacles that providers face — especially primary care physicians and their staff — is their lack of visibility into patients' health care journeys. Data exist but are scattered across constellations of different systems in different formats, making it next to impossible for doctors and staff to know how their patient is doing when she goes through the system, from whom and where she's receiving care, and whether ongoing care is aligned with the patient's best interests. That's why we're building a platform that aggregates and visualizes data to enable primary care physicians with strategic visibility into patient panel health, alongside easy-to-understand financial reporting to help them allocate and manage resources.


What Is One Thing About Building A Business You Did Not Know That You’ve Learned So Far Since Launching Pearl Health?

People make choices because of people, at least in the early innings of your venture. You are the brand, and you are the reason people say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. 

Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines?

I’m currently working long days. Emails typically start around 7:30am, and I typically sign off just before midnight. I only do it because I enjoy it and it’s all building toward something, so I don’t feel like I’m working the same way it might feel for others. If I didn’t feel that way, my “schedule” would be impossible. In general, we try hard to take weekends off as a team. I believe in the restorative process of some time away and time spent with family and friends. Even though we work hard, it’s important that people “relax hard” too.

In the morning I usually work out. For me, exercise is critical and highly related to my mood throughout the day. I’ll have a coffee in the morning and spend some time with my 2-year-old daughter, Charlotte. She’s my greatest gift in the world.

I make an effort to take a few 5-10 minutes breaks throughout the day to move around, see Charlotte when she’s back from school, and clear my mind.

Every day I also try to write three appreciations, something I’m thankful for. This simple technique, which I’ve been doing for many years, helps me start my day with thanks and optimism, instead of agitation or disappointment.

I’m probably doing too many meetings right now, but I’m committed to being available and up-to-speed with what’s going on across Pearl and beyond. That said, this is something I’m thinking more about — and how to balance it with the increasing demands on my time.

I’m increasingly using a paper journal to write down insights and important things, so I can reflect a little more. I’m also trying to reboot my daily meditations, which I’ve been doing for the better part of eight years now.



What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

Relentless determination. Tenacity and conviction, coupled with an openness to seeing reality, enables one to identify and realize what is possible. 

Continuous optimism. There’ll always be obstacles, and you have to have an optimistic mindset to endure the hamster wheel of problems and not get discouraged. Most obstacles are tests to help you and your team grow and establish who is meant to be on the other side versus who simply wishes to be on the other side. 

Be trustworthy and know your business. Work hard to do what you say and say what you do. First impressions and your areas of focus define you. 

For entrepreneurs just starting, I encourage you to enjoy the experience and be ready to put in the hard work. Entrepreneurship can be found in many places, so don’t create a false idol of what successful entrepreneurship looks like. It’s rarely what you read in the news, and it’s never the same thing twice.


Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

The birth of my daughter was the most significant moment in my life.

It taught me to enjoy the moment more and appreciate my time with the people I care about. I am so lucky to have Charlotte — not only because she is awesome, but also because she’s so loved, brings happiness to everyone around her, and will always be my wife’s and my baby.

Her constant joy and excitement has helped me re-experience the world around me.

Becoming a father to a baby girl was such a special and transformative experience. It rewards me each day. I’m excited to get out of bed in the morning to see her, and I love the adventures that we get to go on together.


If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

I’m lucky to have one of them as my mentor of nearly 20 years: George David, the Chairman of Raytheon. I love my time with George, because it gives me the opportunity to ask questions that I struggle with but are hard to share with others. He also has a genuine care and concern for my development and growth, and he sees a big enough world that he knows how to separate what’s important from distractions. I have other heroes too.

More generally, I encourage people to reach out to those who they think are great. You might get lucky and have one of them in your life.


What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

“We will either find a way or make one,” said by Hannibal of Carthage upon his famous excursion through the Alps. I think it captures the grit, ingenuity, and confidence that is required for the entrepreneurial journey.



Is There A Parable That You Often Think About? What Is It And What Lesson Does It Teach?

I love the real-life parable of the Stockdale Paradox, which I first came across in Jim Collins’ Good to Great

Admiral James Stockdale, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient and former prisoner-of-war, said of his multi-year stay in a POW camp: “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” 

It’s a poignant lesson for all people, not just entrepreneurs, about the paradoxical need for both relentless optimism and intellectually honest pragmatism. Both are required to endure the ups and downs of entrepreneurship — and to build a path to the other side of what may seem like insurmountable obstacles. 


Who Is Your Role Model?

My father has been a great role model in my life. He was able to build and create a lot having come from humble beginnings and invested in his children, his colleagues, and his friends. He’s an optimist and an entrepreneur at heart, and I’ve enjoyed learning from him and spending time with him from being a little boy to an adult. 


What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

Working out

Time with my wife, daughter, and rest of my family

Seeing friends and doing outdoor activities with them


What Does Success Mean To You?

Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal. I think that, while anybody can achieve success, it takes a willingness and a discipline to drive toward it every day. For my part, I’ve enjoyed specific missions that I think are important for the world. In this chapter of my life, it’s helping Pearl’s vision manifest into reality and enabling the United States to get much more out of our healthcare system at a lower cost and with greater satisfaction. For my family, colleagues, and friends, it’s helping them achieve their ambitions and dreams, however best I can, so they live a life of abundance and adventure without regret.

  Michael Kopko’s Favorites Stack:

Books:

1. How the Economic Machine Works, by Ray Dalio (technically a video)

2. The Firm, by Josh Grisham

3. The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster

Health & Fitness:

1. Run on the streets

2. Citibike over the Brooklyn Bridge and all around Manhattan and Brooklyn

3. Walking around with my daughter Charlotte

Brands:

1. My Pearl hoodie

2. Nike t-shirts

3. Nice pair of dress shoes

Products:

1. Airpods & iPhone

2. American Express

3. Robinhood & Audible

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. The New Yorker

2. The Strangest Secret (YouTube)

3. NY Times & WSJ & StrictlyVC

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. My wife Marcela’s family loves seeing their granddaughter, and we love seeing them. 

2. Clinton, Connecticut. It’s the beach town where I spent my summers as a kid growing up.

3. United Kingdom, Scotland

4. Ireland

5. Marcela and I still want to make it to the Maldives.


- What I Found
Joe Parenteau | Fable

JOE PARENTEAU

Co-Founder & CEO of Fable, a lifestyle brand designing and delivering products that transform how you eat at home—starting with better tableware.


What Is Fable? Tell Us About Your Products, Mission, And How Fable Differentiates Itself From The Other Brands In The Same Category.

At Fable, we create timeless everyday pieces that inspire and elevate the experience of dining at home. Motivated by a common vision to create products that are as enjoyable as they are ethical, we started with ceramics that are sustainably crafted in Portugal, and have since expanded to flatware, glassware, textiles, and more. Starting with tableware, our mission is to bring ethical, sustainable home decor into every area of the home.

Through transparent pricing and conscious sourcing, we produce accessibly priced tableware without compromising on quality or ethical craftsmanship. We also recognize that a meal is not a given right; in our pursuit of balancing profit and purpose, we donate a meal for every Dinnerware Set sold through our partnership with Mealshare. We plan to continue to grow Fable into a lifestyle brand and trusted source for all things home decor.



What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

I’m a technology leader, and an operations expert. After working in the traditional accounting space, I began my pursuit in technology at Bench Accounting, where I helped build teams and scale the operations from 400 to 4000 clients. Previously, I built and led an 80 person operations team at AvenueHQ, a real estate marketing company.

Together with Max Tims and Tina Luu, I founded Fable as a solution to a personal problem. When wanting to upgrade to more premium home decor and tableware, I wasn’t able to find anything out there that was ethically and sustainably produced and accessibly priced that also offered a simplified shopping experience. We saw an opportunity, and set out to fill the gap.

What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

A favorite for me has been working with such a great team—it’s so inspiring to collaborate with such an incredible group of people. As for the least-liked, I’d say the challenges we’ve faced in recent months due to global shipping delays. Most of our products are produced in places like Portugal and Japan, so naturally, we’ve been pretty heavily impacted by delays. Not being able to replenish our inventory levels at the expected rate, and feeling like we’re letting our customers and community down as a result, hasn’t been easy.


Tell Us About Your Co-Founders And How Their Skills Supplement Yours.

Fable was co-founded together with Max Tims, our Head of Operations, and Tina Luu, our Head of Technology. While our primary roles are quite different, we work very closely to lead Fable under one of our core philosophies: sharing all that we can. All three of us come from a background in tech, and each bring a unique yet complementary skillset to the table. 


What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

Our name is a reference to Aesop’s Fables. More specifically, we were drawn to the fable called The Dove and the Ant, which is what inspired the turtle dove in our logo. Its moral, the importance of showing kindness to others in order to see it in return, was something we felt aligned with both as individuals and as a brand.


What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

The fundraising process has been great so far—our investors have been so helpful and supportive of our business. Whenever we’ve experienced any challenges, it’s been great having them to turn to as extra team members with loads of valuable experience.


Are There Plans To Launch New Products Or Categories In The Near Future?

Yes, absolutely. At Fable, we see a lot of opportunity beyond the dining table, and we plan to continue on our mission to bring elevated home decor into every area of the home. This year, we launched premium Japanese glassware and Belgian linen to complement our sustainably crafted ceramics and flatware, and we’re launching a handful of exciting new products this year and next that we can’t wait to share with you. Keep an eye out!


This Past Year Has Brought So Many Challenges To Companies Of All Sizes, Especially Those That Lean On Supply Chains. How Have COVID-19 And Recent Supply Chain Constraints Impacted Your Operation And Business Over The Last Few Months And Year?

COVID-19 and recent supply chain constraints have impacted our business in a few different ways. More than anything, they’ve put strains on freight forwarding, which has largely impacted our logistical ability to move our products from Portugal or Japan to our warehouse in Burnaby, BC. In turn, this has caused challenges with getting our products to our customers and community. We’ve chosen to be transparent with our community in clearly communicating the issues we’re facing, and we’ve been fortunate to see an overwhelmingly positive response so far. The understanding, patience, and continued support has been really great to see.


How Do You Think Your Industry Or The World In General Will Change Post-COVID?

I think one of the biggest shifts we’ll see, and are already seeing, is with how people work. I believe that remote work is here to stay, and will continue to evolve to become a more global practice.


Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines?

I spend most of my days working remotely from Europe, which puts me in a different time zone than most of my team members. I structure my workday to better align with theirs by starting later in the day, which means free mornings and late nights.

I typically start my day by taking Nash, our 2-year-old Golden Retriever, for a walk to grab a specialty coffee before I head off to train or play a match of tennis. Around noon, I either find a patio to sit on or head home for lunch. After that, I take a nap for 30 minutes to an hour before starting the workday around 2:00-3:00pm. Working remotely gives me the freedom to make dinner, take Nash for a night walk, and have a few calls with team members in the evenings. I usually have three to five Nespressos to keep me awake until the workday is done, around midnight or 1:00am local time.



What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

The ability to execute and think strategically. I think most people either fall into the category of having big build ideas but not knowing how to get them off the ground, or the opposite—being able to do the work, but not having the vision to execute the bigger picture.


Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

When I was very young, around 10 years old, I loved playing with Lego. I had a subscription to Lego Club Magazine, and became so passionate about being featured in it that I submitted multiple times. Finally, after submitting photos of a Lego submarine I made from scratch, I was featured in the magazine. To me, the takeaway was that if you really want to make something happen, it’s possible. I still live by that to this day.


If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

Rafa Nadal, the Spanish professional tennis player. I’d love to play a game of tennis with him, and to have the opportunity to really seek to understand his ability to lift an entire community. He’s a big inspiration.


Is There A Parable That You Often Think About? What Is It And What Lesson Does It Teach?

The Dove and The Ant. As mentioned in an earlier answer, it’s one of Aesop’s fables (which technically makes it a fable, not a parable, but close enough) that inspired our name. It teaches the importance of the ability to always show kindness, which is at the root of everything we do at Fable. Showing kindness to the earth via sustainably crafted products and eco-friendly packaging, and showing kindness to each other as a team and our community as a whole.


Who Is Your Role Model?

I really look up to Maj Masad, the Co-Founder of Mejuri. He’s someone that I’ve been fortunate enough to both work with and learn from as we build Fable.


What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

In my free time, I like to play tennis, spend time with my girlfriend Denise and our Golden Retriever, Nash, and travel. Since relocating to Europe last year, I’ve been able to make the most of days off and weekends by jetting off (or driving) to different European cities and countries to sightsee and explore, and it’s been amazing.


What Does Success Mean To You?

To me, success is all about fulfillment—getting to live a life of fulfilling days where you really feel like you’ve been able to create and build something that brings joy to other people, and improves their lives in some way.

  Joe Parenteu’s Favorites Stack:

Books:

1. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol S. Dweck

2. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari

3. Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t, by James C. Collins

Health & Fitness:

1. Tennis

2. Beach volleyball

3. Gym / weightlifting

Brands:

1. Lululemon

2. Kit & Ace

3. Nike

Products:

1. Nespresso

2. Red wine

3. Japanese chef’s knife

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. Nik Sharma

2. Bad Blood (currently)

3. Crime Junkie

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Georgia

2. Morocco

3. Norway


- What I Found
Braeden McCarthy | Soone

BRAEDEN MCCARTHY

Co-Founder of Soone, a connection app focused on getting people out from behind their phones and interacting in real life.


What Is Soone? Tell Us About The App And How It Works.

Soone is the first connection app that is heavily focused on getting people out from behind their phones and interacting in real life right away. We connect people in close proximity who are ready to meet when they log onto the app. When you send someone a connection request, users have 30 minutes to accept it, and a temporary chat window pops up to set a location to meet, meaning you can go from being on your phone to meeting with someone in under an hour. We also help by suggesting nearby meet up locations such as bars, nightclubs and cafés – great public places to meet up so you can have an in-person interaction and feel safe.

Women feel more comfortable with our additional security measures in place such as a requirement that the first photo you take for your profile be taken live to prevent catfishing and misleading pictures that other apps struggle with. We also have a proprietary heat map that shows where clusters of users are (though never identifying anyone’s exact location). College students, young professionals and people new to Austin have particularly embraced the philosophy behind Soone.


What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

Before Soone, I was just a typical college student. My friend Austin and I were both 19 and realized that we saw our friends constantly swiping and hitting “like” on other apps, but when we asked our friends how many people they ended up meeting in real life, they said not many. There were lots of endless chats but it seemed my generation was more content to hide behind their phones than actually meet new people, even if they were out at a bar or restaurant. Austin and I realized that there has to be a better way and that’s how Soone was born.


What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

My favorite part of the entrepreneurial journey has definitely been learning. I'm one of those weird people who actually enjoys school and learning. There’s been a lot of learning that has occurred throughout this process for me. I surrounded myself with a lot of really smart people, and so that's been really enjoyable to learn from them.

The least favorite part of the journey has been trying to overcome the language barrier between layman's terms and coding terms when working with our development team. I have learned a lot from them, and I continue to get better at it every week.

 The most challenging piece has definitely been keeping up the discipline to sacrifice. I sacrifice social events and different things that my peers are doing because I have commitments for Soone, so I just don't have time to engage in many social activities. I will say it is very enjoyable work so that does make it a little bit easier to sacrifice that time, plus I'm really passionate about helping people meet in person. That passion and the enjoyment that I find in my work makes it easier.  

The most exciting moment has been seeing people relate to the experiences that I have had and that my Co-Founder Austin has had which is the reason why we came up with the concept and the need for the app in the marketplace. 

Tell Us About Your Co-Founders And How Their Skills Supplement Yours.

Scott has helped navigate the world of entrepreneurship. Austin is a real self-starter, determined to accomplish his goals, along with being very creative and aesthetically gifted at knowing how to create things that look really professional and clean.


Have You Raised Funding Thus Far? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

Scott Dill is a serial entrepreneur, and he's really helped Austin and me to navigate this world of entrepreneurship. So far we've used funds to hire a development team to code the app, we've hired a marketing firm to help us share the app with the people in Austin. There are also legal fees and other fees that come with starting your own company.

How Has Soone Acquired Users In The Austin Area? What Other Cities Do You Plan On Expanding Into In The Near Future?

We have a great marketing team who has helped us do a lot of fun events in Austin and engage in a lot of great marketing opportunities. We did an event at the UT Marketplace. We've got billboards up in Austin. We’ve got Spotify ads and radio ads. We have hosted events at local venues where we were able to introduce the app to a lot of people.

I found the best way to acquire users has been just telling people about it face to face because you can address their concerns and questions. Once they understand it, people really tend to engage.

In terms of other cities, our main focus right now is just making sure the users in Austin have a really great experience with the app. Beyond that, we're thinking about launching in our hometown of Charlotte. It’s similar to Austin as it has a really young, lively demographic and a lot of great places to meet up.


How Has COVID Impacted Your Operations And Growth Over The Last Year?

COVID caused us to pause operations for a few months before we finished the app and launched it because we wanted to make sure that there wouldn’t be a health risk in launching an app in which the main purpose is to get people to meet in person. That being said, with the lack of in person interactions over the past year and a half, this app is more relevant now than it was pre-COVID.

What Is One Thing About Building A Business That You’ve Learned So Far Since Launching Soone?

If you want to get something done, just start it. You don’t always have to know what you are doing but if you want to get something done, you have to start somewhere. Once you start, you can figure it out as you go.

Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines?

It depends on the day for me because I am a full-time college student. I have classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 until 3:45. Those days I usually wake around 5 in the morning. I do some work for Soone, and then I “pre-read” for my classes, in which I read over some of the materials that I'll cover in my classes so that I can engage better with that material. During my hour and 20 minute lunch break, I usually grab lunch and find a quiet space to eat and catch up on emails. Then I go home and do some homework or work.

I'm also a member of the varsity lacrosse team at Franklin & Marshall College, and I practice from 7 to 9 pm. Then I go home and make some dinner, before usually going to bed around 11.

Other days, I usually get up around 6. On those days I don't have specific

commitments outside of practice and lifting so I usually try to time block my day to set aside time for different tasks. For instance, I may spend 2 hours working on revising and reviewing some of the marketing techniques that we have in place, followed by 2 hours reviewing some of the development and coding that's going on. Then I typically spend 3 hours on homework.

One trick that I use to stay productive is to always start your day with something productive because it sets the tone and the pace for the rest of your day.

Other things I like to do are read and make my bed. I usually try not to start my day by scrolling through Instagram or watching TikTok. I usually try to start it by reading either the news, or an article that's relevant to Soone.


What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

One, you have to be self-motivated because there's really nobody checking in on you or watching over your shoulder to make sure you're getting your work done. At the end of the day, it's up to you.

Two, you have to be determined. When there's a task at hand, a lot of times it can seem like a mountain to climb because you don't have experience with completing that task. There's no one to really help guide you along in how to complete it so you really have to be determined to just get it done.

Third, you have to be resilient. Nothing great happens overnight. So when things don't go well, you have to be resilient and able to adapt to the feedback that you're given.

In terms of advice for entrepreneurs, I have two pieces of advice. One is don't be afraid to be wrong. Just make sure that when you do get something wrong, you're open to correcting it, which is something that I definitely had to learn to do. And the second thing comes from a book that Scott O'Neal wrote called Be Where Your Feet Are. It's called API. People typically have positive intent and are not trying to take you down; they're trying to help you. So always assume positive intent when you're working with others.


Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

I missed my first semester of college, and then got sent home early during the second semester due to COVID, so I spent most of my college experience online. But one thing I've learned from that is God has a plan and that when one door closes, another opens. This really gave me an opportunity to work on the app and get done what I needed to get it to the position that it is in today.


If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

Tom Brady. He has managed to perform at such a high level for such a long period of time, but he also keeps a great work/life balance and has a really strong family life. I would talk to him about how he maintains such high motivation after reaching that mountain top and how he continues to perform at a higher and higher level every year.


What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

“It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.” - Timothy McCarthy (my grandfather)

“People spend a lot of time worrying about making the right decision; instead worry about making the decision right.” - Timothy McCarthy

Who Is Your Role Model?

My grandfather. Without a college education to start his career, he worked his way up from office boy to CEO of CE Minerals, traveling all around the world and receiving his MBA from MIT without an undergrad degree.

What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

I am a full-time college student majoring in Business, Organizations, and Society and minoring in Applied Mathematics at Franklin & Marshall College. I am also a member of the lacrosse team at Franklin & Marshall College so I spend time practicing, lifting, and training. Outside of those two pieces of my life, I enjoy spending time with friends, exercising, and doing yoga.


What Does Success Mean To You?

I view success in a few different lenses. Success for the app means helping people get out from behind their phones and interact in person, the way we did before social media and cell phones really dominated our society. Success for me personally means people regarding me as kind and hardworking. Success in life means having a positive impact on society whether in a big way or just impacting one or two people every single day.

  Braeden McCarthy’s Favorites Stack:

Books:

1. Can’t Hurt Me, by David Goggins

2. Be Where Your Feet Are, by Scott O’Neil

3. Grit, by Angela Duckworth

Health & Fitness:

1. Lifting

2. Fight Camp

3. Going for a 2-3 Mile Run

Brands:

1. Brooks Brothers

2. Lululemon

3. Nike


- What I Found
Nate Checketts | Rhone

NATE CHECKETTS

Founder & CEO of Rhone, a premium apparel brand for men.


What Is Rhone? Tell Us About Your Brand And What Makes Your Clothing Unique.

Rhone is premium men’s apparel made for where you sweat, live, and work. Rhone delivers best-in-class products, engineered with performance technologies and premium fabrics designed to fill the void in the men’s premium activewear market.



What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

As I was graduating from BYU, I launched my first venture backed startup which was a mobile software company. That was my first experience working with investors, building out a leadership team and trying to grow a company. We eventually sold that business to the 49ers and I then worked for and consulted with many companies: Cisco, FanVision, Sport Radar and The National Football League, to name a few. But, my passion always lied with creating, building, and being challenged. I ended up launching four different companies before the age of 30 and Rhone was the last one.

If you told me fifteen years ago that I would have started a men’s apparel company, I would have never believed it because fashion and apparel wasn’t something I had any background in or something I paid attention to. Rhone was built because we saw a gap in the men’s activewear market and we felt there was a big opportunity in the space.



What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

Our name was inspired by the Rhone river in Europe as it was not only aesthetically beautiful but was also once a valued trade route. That’s exactly how we approach our products. We start with the world’s finest fabrics, pair them with cutting edge textile technology, and finish with an unmatched fit and style to create clothing that satisfies both form and function.


What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

My favorite part of being an entrepreneur is the ability to innovate, to evolve, and to always look for ways to improve. To me, that constant need to reinvest yourself is invigorating and exciting. I also really enjoy building a team and working to be a better leader that they can rely on and put trust in. And of course I really have grown to love creating tangible product vs working in software. It is such a great experience to hand someone a product you have dreamed about and created and see that product positively impact their day / life.

I think the biggest challenge for me personally is I have high expectations and it is easy when you crest one milestone to constantly be thinking about the next one vs reflecting on what you have accomplished thus far. I’m wired a bit to always be looking forward (hence our tagline) but there is real value in looking back and reflecting. One of the quotes I need to remind myself often is “Comparison is the thief of joy.” There will always be someone doing better than you and most people only experience joy and sorry in relativity--meaning they are only happy relative to those they know or are aware of vs happy in the absolute. I have learned that taking stock of what I have, have been given and been blessed with and focusing on that daily gratitude helps center me and ground me in the highs and lows of building a company. There are days I feel like we are unstoppable and days where I don’t know how we will get through an obstacle but gratitude always brings me back to how fortunate I am to even have the ability to do what I do.

Most exciting Rhone moment? I think telling my mom we were opening a store on 5th Ave is one of the most exciting Rhone moments for me. It just felt like such a milestone to be across from Nike, New Balance and other giants of industry and exciting to be on an iconic New York street.


What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

The fundraising process has always been a bit of a roller coaster. Unlike many of the companies in our space we have never used a banker. It has always been driven by people who are passionate and excited about the brand and product. We have some incredible investors on our cap table including a few former NFL players like Justin Tuck and Troy Aikman (one Giant and one Cowboy). We also have great personalities and investors including David Stern who invested before he passed, Steve Bornstein and others we are not allowed to share publicly. Lastly we have been backed by the largest Global consumer PE firm L Catterton.




With So Many DTC Apparel Brands Out There In The Same Space, What Are Some Of The Marketing Strategies You Use To Build Brand Awareness And Acquire Customers? Also, Do You See Rhone Launching Products Into New Categories Or Product Lines In The Near Future?

It starts with our core of who we are, what we stand for and being really clear about that across all of our channels and platforms.

We lean heavily into earned media, leveraging third party endorsements from media and influencers trying the product. We also do paid media on Instagram and other platforms, as well as partner with like minded fitness and health brands.

There are always opportunities to expand into new categories and product lines. While growth is always a goal, we want to achieve it in a way that makes sense for the brand and for the customer. Our product and creative teams are extremely innovative; we love to test out different products and ideas, but overall, we value the customers’ feedback and requests and work from there.



How Do You Think Your Industry Will Change Post-COVID?

As has been said by others, COVID didn’t necessarily change our industry but it accelerated changes that were already happening. The biggest functional change has been shifting distribution models and a push towards direct channels like ecomm and owned retail vs wholesale. The biggest overarching changes are a continued push towards brands with purpose and a focus on making responsible decisions for our climate. All of these were already core focuses for us and we have been fortunate to be well positioned moving forward.


Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines?

Morning: My mornings tend to start early. I wake up and move to my home gym and generally do a 30-40 min focused fitness session that has varied through the years. The key for me is moving and getting my body ready for the day. I then take my oldest to school who starts about an hour earlier than his peers. He’s a great kid and I really value my time with him during our drive. I then come back and focus on my day plan, clearing any emails. Next I will go meet my next 2 boys who are starting to stir and over the last 5 months we will do some soccer training together. 10-15 mins each. Then we grab breakfast together and they hop on the bus. After that I shower, get dressed and get ready for work. I try to keep my morning relatively clear for execution and limited meetings.

Afternoon: My afternoons are heavily focused on meetings. I like to go into my meetings prepared and thus really use the morning to get ready for that part of the day. They are often back to back with little break in between but it helps keep things moving and I’d rather protect consistent blocks of time in the morning vs spreading meetings out.

Evening: Evenings are heavily dependent on the day of the week. I try and keep 1 day a week for NYC days where I will often meet someone for a dinner or a later meeting, 1 night for a date night for my wife, 1 night where my wife is generally out and it’s me and the boys, 1 night for some volunteer work at my local church congregation where I get to do great activities with 14-15 year olds in a faith based environment and lastly 1 family night where we will often watch a movie or play a game together.



What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

Top three qualities entrepreneurs should have are: patience, adaptability, and leadership.

Advice for entrepreneurs starting out:

Hire the best people possible. It’s cliché advice but it’s given for a reason — your team is the most important decision you make. From top to bottom, surround yourself with people that are motivated, intelligent, and versatile.

Define your brand’s voice and be consistent in every execution with it. This ties in with having an authentic brand, and it can be incredibly beneficial to have consistent and authentic messaging that people can relate to.

Customers crave authenticity. To every extent possible, it’s incredibly important to live your brand and to make it authentic and relatable. When you radiate authenticity, others pick up on that and will naturally gravitate towards your brand.

Don’t be afraid to go slow in the short-term so you can go fast in the long-term. Too often upstart brands come out hot without laying a solid foundation for what’s to come. It’s important to build a solid core before really looking to take off in new areas.

Get to know your customers. Spend some time with them in a physical environment and ask questions. Community feedback and relationships can be vital for an upstart brand looking to gain traction. Even with the utility and reach of online communication, there’s still no substitute for face-to-face interaction with your customers.


Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak on a panel and one question that was asked was, “If you could go back to your eighteen-year-old self and give one piece of advice, what would you say?” Someone on the panel shared his response and it’s something that really stuck with me. He said, “I would tell myself that there are weeds in your life and there are flowers in your life. Don’t spend your time watering the weeds. What we give life to, what we give water to, what we give air to, what we give focus to, is what grows.” So over the last few months I have reminded myself every time something hard happens that I need to focus on watering the flowers.


If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

Honestly and not meaning to cop out here, I generally have not enjoyed conversations with famous people nearly as much as people I admire who are successful without a lot of the attention. I am drawn to great thinkers and builders. Right now, one CEO I admire is RJ Scaringe who founded Rivian and has built it into an incredible brand and company with meaning.


What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

One of my favorite quotes is the Rhone mantra of “Forever Forward.” We all make mistakes, take steps backward or get lost at various times in our life. And that is okay. It happens. But, if we just keep on focusing on moving forward and making progress in whatever we are pursuing, that gives life great meaning. Life isn’t like a road where you can be stationary--I’ve found it’s much more like an escalator and you are either moving forward or backward. It starts with focus and intention then a lot of work and self reflection. 

Who Is Your Role Model?

My parents are my role models. My mother is an incredibly giving human and she has always taught me how to be a more patient, caring being. My father was very successful in the workplace but was always a father first. He has never been afraid to show his emotions or lead by quiet example. I’m truly blessed to have such wonderful and inspirational parents that I admire and still learn from today.


What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

When I have free time, I generally love to spend it on activities with my kids. Recently we have really gotten into wakesurfing at a local lake. It’s become my favorite activity, getting in that water just refreshes me and it’s low impact but a lot of fun. It’s been great seeing my kids pick up a new skill that they can excel at.  


What Does Success Mean To You?

My parents often quoted the phrase “no success can compensate for failure in the home.” So as a husband and father of 3 that has to be the first priority for me. Raising my boys and helping them become the best they can is what will mean success for me. In addition to striving to be the best parent and spouse I can be-- I try to be all in on what I have committed to in my life. I love our team at Rhone and am committed to building a brand they are proud to work at and that our investors believe is a financial success. I am fortunate to serve as the Chairman of an incredible non profit called Beyond Type 1 which helps people globally who live with Diabetes --now both Type 1 and Type 2. And I am deeply committed to my faith and serving in my local congregation.

My hobbies tend to be focused on investing in and advising other consumer startups--that is really where I derive a lot of energy and excitement. With all of these commitments I admittedly don’t really relax well--I’ve never been someone who can sit on a beach or play several rounds of golf without getting anxious about productivity. I don’t necessarily wear that as a badge of honor--it’s just the way I’m wired. But for me, success means living a very full life, prioritizing my faith and family and positively impacting others lives through the building of great companies and brands.

  Nate Checketts’ Favorites Stack:

Books:

1. The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, by Stephen Covey

2. Grit, by Angela Duckworth

3. Effortless, by Greg Mckeown

Health & Fitness:

1. Clean Simple Eats for Nutrition (the best clean protein powders and supplements in the market and incredible macro based recipes)

2. Oura Ring

3. Peloton Tread

4. Ladder Training

Brands:

1. I honestly wear 90% Rhone --we believe we can handle about 90% of a modern guys closet today.

2. For formal my go to is The Knot Standard

3. For footwear I wear Taft or Wolf & Shepherd for formal and York Athletics or Adidas for active

Products:

1. Clean Simple Eats Products

2. AirPods

3. Traeger Grill

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. The Daily by The NY Times

2. Against The Odds

3. Business Wars

4. What’s Essential by Greg Mckeown

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Charleston, South Carolina

2. Iceland


- What I Found
Munjal Shah | Health IQ

MUNJAL SHAH

Co-Founder & CEO of Health IQ, an insurance company that rewards health-conscious seniors with discounts and savings.


What Is Health IQ? Tell Us About What You Are Building And What Your Mission Is.

Health IQ is an insurance company for health-conscious seniors. We give special discounts in insurance for having taken care of their health. Our mission is to celebrate the people who have taken responsibility for their health with discounts and encourage them to continue to do so and, hopefully, inspire others to take care of their health as well.


What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

Living in Silicon Valley in the '80s, it was in the water, so to speak.  I always knew I wanted to build companies growing up. I'm a serial entrepreneur and Health IQ is my third company.  It came out of a personal health crisis where after I sold my last company, I ended up with chest pains the very next day and wound up in the ER. After changing my own personal health and losing 40 pounds, I decided that what I really wanted to do was help the world get a little healthier and start a company to do so.


What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

Health is a bit like playing cards. It's the cards you're dealt with but it's also how you play the cards. I think that’s the inspiration behind the company and we really wanted to separate the two.

You can't control the first, but you can control the second. At Health IQ when we built all these insurance products, we didn't want to build products that judge you on the part you can't control. We wanted to build products that gave you a discount on the part you can control. That in essence is Health IQ. That’s why the name is what it is. That's why it's not health.com or healthcare.com, but Health IQ because we're trying to emphasize the part that you can take control of, which is your own personal health knowledge.


What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

Some of the early days of starting a company are just magical; the parts where ideas are being born, pulling together the first few people, etc. are just magical experiences in the sense that you really feel like something is happening out of nothing. It is just a really special time in creating a company.

I think that as you scale a company – Health IQ is now approaching 900 people – there's a lot of not-so-fun stuff related to compliance, rules, and regulations that you have to follow and do well but, they’re aspects of running a company that certainly take up time without necessarily feeling like the reason you started the company in the first place.

As far as exciting moments, the day we launched our first product was really exciting. The day we sold our first policy was really exciting. The day we got to our first million dollars in sales was really exciting. All these firsts - the first time we opened our second office in San Diego. The first time we were a company that was in more than one location; when we opened a third and a fourth but that first office In Mountain View was really special. Our first company holiday party where I got to meet everybody and their spouses. I think some of the special firsts are times that you always remember.


What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

Because I was a serial entrepreneur, the fundraising process was different. I had already sold a company and so it wasn't that hard to get funding. I was able to go to those who made money before to invest again so it was a different process than my first time when I raised money for my very first company where it was much more difficult. The second time and the third time, it got progressively easier and easier.

We used the money to build the product, write the software, launch new insurance products, build out the really big data that we needed to be able to price health conscious people. Then we also invested in both marketing and sales, because you need people to sell the product.

We brought in a very great group of Silicon Valley venture capitalists. Folks like Andreesen Horowitz, Charles River Ventures, Foundation Capital and Ribbit Capital, and even added some folks that came with an insurance background like Acquiline Capital based in New York. The investors have not only provided us with capital, but really a lot of company building experience and company building resources that have helped us over the years.



How Has Growth Been Over The Last Year? Anything Exciting Launching Soon?

The company has grown dramatically over the last year from 200 to 900 people and, in turn, we have people in 39 states across the country. This has enabled us to go fully remote and take care of our employees.

In addition, we've gone from one product - life insurance to three products: life insurance, auto insurance and health insurance.



How Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Business And Operation? Have There Been Any Significant Changes Over The Last Few Months As Things Have Gotten Better Overall?

Two big changes with COVID. One, it really accelerated the business. We were 200 employees at the beginning of COVID and we’re around 900 employees today.

COVID helped everybody to realize that having the right insurance - health insurance and life insurance - is really important. It took a little extra push from the pandemic, I think, to remind everybody, and our sales have shown that response.

The second part was that I shifted our whole company to remote, and then hired 700 people so, in a way, we are now not only a remote company, we're remote first. Those 700 people we hired are in 39 states and couldn't bring everyone back into the offices if we wanted to. We would have to open probably 60-plus offices just to get an office within 30 miles of each person. It's worked well. Our employees are happier because they can work out in the mornings or they can work out at the end of the day because they're not driving in traffic. It’s not only something that's made the business better, it’s something that's made the life of our employees less stressful by not having to commute. So, we've decided to stay remote first.



Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines?

I am a creature of habit. I'm a big believer that one of the keys to being healthy is to sleep enough. There's so much machismo around “oh, I got 3 hours of sleep, I must be a better entrepreneur than the one who got 5 hours sleep.” That's just absolutely not true.

The beauty of working from home is that I can literally get up at 7:30, get ready, showered, have eaten breakfast, and be at my desk by 8:00am. I'm in meetings every single minute of the day, pretty much from 8:00 until 5:00pm or so. Then I rush out the door and go on a bike ride. It's my main form of exercise and I love it. I do it probably about 4 weekdays out of the 5 as I usually have some special function on Fridays. It’s about 5:15pm when I am out the door and I’ll bike until about 7:00pm racing to get home before sunset to eat dinner with the kids from 7:00 to 8:00pm. Then I'm back on my laptop working until 10:00 or 11:00 at night and usually in bed by 11:00 or midnight to do it all again at 7:30am the next day. I will usually work 4+ hours over the weekend.

Another tip - I use my calendar for everything In terms of just staying productive, including my cycling time. It’s all just a little harder when you're on Zoom from 8:00 to 5:00pm nearly every single minute of the day.

It is a little challenging, especially in the afternoons. You feel like, oh, my gosh, I wanna take a nap or something. I have found that just moving around a little bit, like taking a Zoom in the backyard on the patio. Just the fresh air and the change of scenery helps quite a bit. If it's just a one on one phone call with somebody you already know, go for a walk while you're on the call around the neighborhood.

So there's things like that that I use, just to keep the blood pumping and the energy going. Doing those things really do help, although there are no perfect solutions to Zoom fatigue.


What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

You must be determined - that's a very important characteristic.

I was recently on the board of a company - I had been on that board for 10 years. I helped the CEO start the company and brainstormed the idea 10 years ago. I actually worked for this man and he taught me a lot so when he started his third company and he asked me to help, I was happy to do so. The first idea didn’t quite work and he found a second idea. Then for a number of years, there were various complications where it came to a halt and he had to reinvent the idea again. He just sold the company for a good exit for himself and his co-founders and his investors, but it took 10 years. It took him twisting and fine tuning the company numerous little times, and two major times.

The other quality you must have is to be multidimensional. You can't be a “one-trick pony”. You have to be well rounded and know a little bit about everything to be a great entrepreneur; a little bit about marketing, a little bit about sales, a little about engineering. If you don't, you can't successfully hire somebody and be able to tell if they're good at that function. You have to be a bit of a renaissance person in the sense that you don't have to be an expert at any one of these things, but you do have to be well rounded in many of them.


Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

When somebody insists that they are something, and they say it three times to me. For example, someone saying “Munjal, I just want you to know I'm a straight shooter.” and say it again, “Munjal, you know, I'm a straight shooter,” and they say it a third time, I'm like, hmm, the only thing I know for sure is that you're not a straight shooter, but you're trying to convince me. In fact, you're really trying to convince yourself. I listen a lot to what I call the insistence rule. When someone insists on something over and over again, it is a sign that it probably isn’t true.



If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

Any of the world’s great comedians. I find that there are so many things better said with a little comedy. I once spent a summer at Second City in Chicago learning improv. Let’s just say the teacher told me not to quit my day job, but I loved it nonetheless. It made me a better leader, communicator, and maybe even person. Seeing the lighter side of life is a gift not only for yourself but one you can bestow on a team with a simple comment at a stressful time. Comedians have a kind of genius that so many of us would benefit from.


What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

I love this quote from Winston Churchill: “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

This quote resonates with me because there's always another chapter. When you think you're done, it turns out you are just at the precipice of something new. I think that there’s so many paths in life. One door opens, one door closes, and another door opens that you thought was gone. When I sold my company to Google, I thought I had reached this kind of financial milestone and end goal that every entrepreneur strives for. But it was not the end at all and another door opened. As I always say, I didn't find my mission, my mission found me.


Who is Your Role Model?

Honestly, I really love what Elon Musk does; the grandeur of his ideas. All these guys are like I'm gonna spend my life building this thing. And he's like, “I'm gonna save mankind from its own environmental disaster, two different ways.” He’s creating a Plan B and getting us out of dodge if we have to get out of dodge and go to Mars.

I really admire Elon, but not for the obvious stuff, it's because he is tackling big problems and isn’t just building some silly, little app or “thing”. He's tackling the problems of climate change with electric cars and the problems of if we don't solve climate change, how we're going to want to survive as a civilization - and we may need to go to another planet to do that. These are worthwhile ambitious grand visions that honestly, most entrepreneurs are too scared to have a vision that big.

Unfortunately, the lean startup model encourages the opposite of those big visions. They're, like, well, if you can't build X with 200K to get some traction, you're not worth your salt as an entrepreneur. And it's, like, well, okay, I'm pretty sure you can't get a car out with 200K or can't build a rocket with 200K. You need a lot of capital to launch companies like that; to even undertake such opportunities and so I think that's what makes him tick and very unique.



What Does Success Mean To You?

What we really want at Health IQ is to make an impact on the world. That's why I'm doing this. For me, making more money is not the answer. What will make Health IQ a success is actually improving lives and making people healthier.

  Munjal Shah’s Favorites Stack:

Books:

1. Eating on the Wild Side

2. Open by Andre Agassi

3. The Emperor of All Maladies

Health & Fitness:

1. Zwift - an indoor cycling training app

2. Tonal - weight lifting machine with electro-magnets

3. The Garmin Radar

Brands:

1. Assos - cycling

2. Rapha - cycling

3. Skins - compression workout clothes


- What I Found
Matt Mullenax | Huron
Matt Headshot.jpg

MATT MULLENAX

Founder & CEO of Huron, a modern-day skin care brand for men.


What Is Huron? Tell Us About Your Brand And What Makes Your Products Unique.

Huron is a men’s care brand whose mission is to help guys help themselves. We’ve created the intersection of premium products and a relatable vibe. All of our competitors from a product and formulation perspective charge anywhere between 3-10x our price points. Our goal is to pass as much value -- cost savings, education, etc -- to our end customer as possible.


What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space. huron-home-body.jpg

My career has been in the consumer/retail space. I started my career in investment banking covering retail and consumer brands. From banking, I left to join Bonobos in the company’s infancy (6 employees), which was one of the earliest DTC brands (although ‘DTC’ did not yet exist). After Bonobos, I spent time on the investing side at a consumer PE firm.

In my investing role, we looked at so many brands targeting the female consumer and disrupting the category. Amazing product/packaging, compelling founder stories and brilliant management teams. But in my late-20s, I was still going to CVS/Walgreens and buying the exact same products that I had been using for 15-20 years. There was a massive disconnect.

Aside from the professional interest, I was also a kid that grew up with bad skin. I tried everything. I threw the kitchen sink at my skin issues. From wandering the aisles of grocery stores to sitting in sterile dermatologist offices, nothing seemed to work. I finally splurged and purchased a ‘premium’ face wash and for whatever reason, the product resonated with my skin. But I didn’t know anyone who’d a) pay that price point consistently; or b) want to go through that discovery process. So, we set out to build a brand that offers a similar level of product quality and efficacy using the world’s best ingredients, but at a much more approachable price point.


What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

Huron was the street that I lived on in Chicago when my skin issues were at their worst. I wake up every morning with an intimate understanding of the consumer that we’re fighting for. Because I was that guy 10 years ago.



What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

We operate as a small team of 4. So, there are a number of administrative tasks that we tackle on a weekly/monthly basis that aren’t the most intellectually stimulating. For me, that’s accounting-related tasks, taxes, etc.

Diving into consumer insights has been one of my favorite aspects. Understanding what makes our existing (and potential) customers tick, what problems they’re solving, and what they’re looking for in a personal care brand are data points that we’re maniacal in collecting. So digging into the data to understand how we can position and differentiate ourselves in the category is one of my favorite parts of the journey thus far.


What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

We’ve been fortunate to raise capital from ‘operational-angels’ and funds who have operational experience. We wanted an investor base that consists of ex-operators who have navigated the DTC and consumer landscape, who can help us think through strategic initiatives but also more tactical exercises (hiring, retail, marketing, etc.).


huron-about-02_2048x2048.jpg With So Many DTC Brands Out There In The Same Space, What Are Some Of The Marketing Strategies You Use To Build Brand Awareness And Acquire Customers? Also, Do You See Huron Launching Products In Other Categories In The Near Future?

We think holistically about our base and where they would (and would not) like to see us. We’re constantly testing new platforms and acquisition channels.

In regards to product pipeline, we will continue to launch products that we know our customers want. This intel comes from anecdotal data points (surveys) but also an intuitive conviction around certain products. Our aim is to help our consumer across the bathroom, so a number of products and product categories are in-play for us.


How Do You Think Your Industry Will Change Post-COVID?

Consumers are much more comfortable (and now attune to) ordering products online. E-commerce will continue to grow and scale as a % of industry-wide sales. However, Amazon has conditioned -- for better or for worse -- consumers to expect 2-day shipping. So fast turnarounds, reliable supply chains, and strong fulfillment partnerships will only grow in importance moving forward.


Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines?

I’m very much a morning person. My alarm is set for 4:30am every weekday, but I’m usually up beforehand. I’ll eat a small snack, have a bit of coffee and do some work for 30-45 min before either running or going to the gym. My wife and I make breakfast together every morning around 7:45am and then we start our respective days.

We’ve been WFH since March of 2020, but have started going back a few days per week to a WeWork. Typically I’ll work until 7pm or so, break for dinner with my wife, and then address some email afterwards.

After, we’ll watch whatever show we’re into and try to be in bed before 11pm or so.

I’m a data nerd, clearly, so I leverage my Whoop to lean on sleep stats.



What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out? huron_pdp_jumbo-shampoo_2.jpg

Constant optimist. Believe in the mission. Set the tone for your team that you’re building something special. Something that is going to work. As a founder/co-founder, the team is looking to you for that confidence and conviction.

Adhere to the golden ratio. I once heard a business leader refer to the ‘golden ratio’ - the fact that we all have two ears and one mouth. Listen twice as much as you speak. Internalize the perspectives and voice of your team. What’s working? What’s causing friction and frustrations? Give your team an opportunity to voice how they’re feeling and what challenges they’re facing.

Know your limitations. We’re all guilty of trying to do everything. But it’s impossible. Even at an early-stage, you must figure out how and when to delegate. What are your strong suits that you can lean on? What are areas that are not strengths and would be too costly and/or timely to develop (e.g. Facebook media buying experience, supply chain management, etc.). Execute on the former and delegate the latter.


Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

I have a professional mentor who was a high-ranking senior officer in the Navy SEALs. When asked why are the SEALs so successful in their operations, he simply said ‘we don’t pick a fair fight.’

Extrapolated to the startup realm, it’s important to understand where your advantages are and how to leverage them at scale. Is it an organic marketing channel? Is it an important supplier relationship? Is it a retail partnership? Understanding your points of differentiation is imperative to separating from your competition.


If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

Elon Musk. He’s ‘bet the house’ on his own ventures multiple times. It would be fun to learn about how to channel this ‘irrational optimism’ and building at rapid scale.


What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

This is my favorite time of the year. I’m a huge college football fan. Being from Ohio, Ohio State is my team. My Saturdays revolve around when they play. It’s a nice 3 hour mental break.

My wife and I have also been running together. We’re running the New York City marathon in a few weeks, so it’s been fun to train together and embrace a new challenge.


What Does Success Mean To You?

Building a brand that is customer-first and executes on our vision to be a helpful hand to our consumers.

  Matt Mullenax’s Favorites Stack:

61wC4Zrvi9S.jpg

Books:

1. The Power of Habit

2. Shoe Dog

3. Billion Dollar Loser

Health & Fitness:

1. CrossFit (I go to CrossFit Union Square in NYC)

2. Running

3. Garmin / Whoop

Brands:

1. Nike

2. TenThousand / Wolaco

3. Hoka One

Products:

1. Wandering Bear Cold Brew and Jot

2. Ascent Protein (Chocolate PB)

3. LMNT (hydration) 

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. 2pm

2. Morning Brew

3. All-In Podcast


- What I Found
Marc Friedman | Cadalys
cadalys.png

MARC FRIEDMAN

Founder & CEO of Cadalys, a company that works with the newest leading-edge Salesforce® technology to deliver superior solutions to its customers and clients.


What Is Cadalys? Tell Us About What You Do And How It Works.

Cadalys builds world-class enterprise business applications that extend the capabilities of Salesforce. The analogy in the personal computing world would be making the best apps for iPhones and Androids. We work closely with the Salesforce product teams and their customers to understand strategic opportunities to expand Salesforce’s capabilities and then build those solutions. We jointly go to market with Salesforce to deliver best-of-breed mission-critical solutions for our customers.

CareIQ is our suite for the healthcare industry. We provide best-of-breed workflows that use world-class evidence-based guidelines to achieve superior experiences and outcomes for payers, providers, patients and the pharmaceutical industry. We automate previously manual processes, which means these superior outcomes happen faster and more efficiently than otherwise possible. The CareIQ suite focuses on Utilization Management, Care Management, Triage, Pop Health, Social Determinants of Health and Member/Patient Engagement.

EngageIQ is a unified platform that enables our customers to engage more effectively and profitably with their employees, customers and partners. The Cadalys Service Management™ solution provides best-of-breed ITIL processes for ITSM and enterprise service management. Cadalys Concierge™ is a next-generation help center for self-service, ticketing and knowledge management. All Aboard™ provides best practices for onboarding, reboarding, transferring and offboarding. Collectively these three solutions provide a superior experience for employees, customers and partners. 



What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

I have a dual MBA in business and IT, which is a perfect foundation for this line of work. I was working at Salesforce and liaising with partners. I quickly found that I didn’t think any of the partners at the time were as good as I expected them to be. I formed Cadalys to raise the bar for what it means to be a partner with Salesforce. Today we work with a carefully curated set of Salesforce partners who have consistently demonstrated the same commitment to excellence in all they do.


What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name? Cadalys-Circle-edits.png

It came from a Greek word that can be translated as “enabling performance that would otherwise not be possible.” This is the way we think about our software and our customers. Our customers are achieving things with their employees, their customers and their partners that they simply would not be able to without our software. It’s a powerful and tremendously satisfying way of thinking about the work we do every day.

For example, we just won the 2021 Salesforce ISV Partner Innovation Award for Healthcare & Life Sciences, beating out hundreds of other solutions. Salesforce and IDC team to award these to Salesforce partners for outstanding innovation of transformative solutions that deliver customer success. We won because our CareIQ suite provides the innovation and transformation that enables our customers to perform at a level that is only possible with our software.



What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

My favorite is far and away the team that we have assembled here at Cadalys. When we win a new strategic client after beating out larger companies that have been around longer, when I see the ideas for our applications that our team has conceived and put into action, and when I receive unsolicited emails from customers telling me how much the team has transformed their business—those are always my favorite.

As for my least-liked part of the entrepreneurial journey, early on, someone whose entrepreneurial journey I respect a great deal told me, “Even when you hate it, you love it.” I definitely agree with that sentiment. If I had to pick one thing, it would be the lack of work-life balance that is typical with entrepreneurs. I don’t think it would ever be possible for me to have an empty To-Do list because there is always something more I can do for Cadalys to help move the ball forward. That’s both the pro and the con of being passionate about a company that is rapidly growing. I hear people say, “Nobody looks back on their life and wishes they would have worked more.” Well, plenty of people do look back on their life wishing they would have played a hand, or thrown their hat in the ring, or taken that one chance to build something and make a difference. So, having taken this journey, I fortunately won’t find myself looking back on my life having not taken the entrepreneurial journey and wondering what might have happened if I had.

The most challenging and exciting moments for Cadalys have been when we win a new customer by beating out competitors that are larger, more established and that have more resources than us. It’s proof of our superior team and products and is a fantastic validation of the work we are doing.



What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

We have been patient and focused on securing strategic investors as opposed to just funding sources. Additionally, we present a realistic data-based forecast that resonates with investors.

Our investors have been fantastic all around. They took the time to understand our business, our unfair advantages and the unique position that we are in. Our lead investor is on the Forbes Midas List and is exploring a joint venture with us in addition to their investment—it’s a huge validation for us. We’ve used the funds for two primary purposes. The first is to expand our sales team to keep up with demand. We get a lot of inbound deal flow, and this has enabled us to take full advantage. The second primary use of our funds has been R&D. We have a lot of powerful features and value drivers in our roadmap, and the expanded team is enabling us to bring these to life faster. This is helping us exploit our unfair advantages and rapidly capture market share.



Who Are Your Co-Founders Or People Who You Work Very Closely With? How Do Their Skills Supplement Yours?

I remember someone once saying, “A players hire B players, and B players hire C players,” and was immediately struck by how that is a sure way to sink a business. I’ve made sure to hire leadership who is better at their jobs than I am, and this has been one of the biggest drivers behind the speed of our growth.

cadalys team.JPG

Our CFO is a former serial CEO with four successful exits under their belt as CEO. They bring a logical, factual, pragmatic, and data-based objectivity to our C-suite. There are a lot of mistakes that we didn’t make because of the experience brought from four successful scale-to-exits and because the data-based objectivity prevents us from making decisions based solely on passion and optimism.

Our CRO, in addition to their prior experience as a CRO, is a former CEO and former COO. Most recently, they were leveraging this rich experience providing guidance and strategic planning to startups and growth-stage companies on how to scale fast to a successful exit. They’d been looking for an opportunity to throw their hat back into the ring at a company with phenomenal potential, and we are honored to have been chosen over the many other alternatives. What they bring to the C-suite is an uncanny ability to think in detail several steps ahead, a methodical approach to revenue generation and an infectious drive for success and constant improvement that has permeated the corporate culture.

Our CTO is the most intelligent sponge I have ever met. You can point them at anything, and they will grok it before you can Google “grok.” Importantly, this applies equally to both business and technology. This dual aptitude enables the ability to truly understand the business challenges our software is solving and how to envision world-class solutions that are both an innovative business solution and a scalable technical solution. It creates a vastly superior result. Our CTO is a visionary but also a healthy skeptic, and this complements the optimism and passion by helping the C-suite look at all possibilities. You can’t plan for the worst-case scenario if you can’t think of the worst-case scenario, and this healthy skepticism helps us make superior strategic decisions and superior software.


Anything Exciting Launching At Cadalys In The Near Future?

Yes. Stay tuned.


What Is One Thing About Building A Business You Did Not Know That You’ve Learned So Far Since Launching Cadalys?

It has really struck me how important it is to have a variety of different personalities and ways of thinking as opposed to a company full of clones. The latter is easier—it’s easy to work with people who all think just like you. However, different personalities = different ways of thinking and different viewpoints = more ways of approaching a challenge or a strategy = more opportunities for success. It can sometimes be more challenging to work with people who don’t always think like you and therefore challenge you, and the benefits in the form of additional viewpoints and approaches are totally worth it. No one person ever has all the answers and having varied personalities and varied ways of thinking create a synergy that would never be possible with a room full of clones.



How Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Growth And Operation Over The Last Year- Especially On The Healthcare Side Of Things? Were There Any Major Adjustments Or Pivots You Had To Make Due To The Pandemic? cadalys care iq.JPG

Our CareIQ suite and EngageIQ suite enable our customers to perform more effectively in a COVID-19 world. Our team was already mostly remote—working in cloud computing means we can hire the best people wherever they may be and not need to consider their proximity to a physical office. Internally and operationally, the only material change we made in response to COVID-19 was that we had a hold on travel until the vaccines were available.

We updated the marketing and positioning for both suites to help customers understand the many ways in which our solutions help companies in all stages of a pandemic. COVID-19 has put an additional strain on healthcare companies, and we help them operate more efficiently. EngageIQ helps companies more effectively manage a remote workforce and the additional IT assets required to support them, provide faster access to better information which is important across the entire enterprise, and “reboard” employees, customers and partners with new policies and procedures related to COVID responses.


How Do You Think Your Industry Will Change Post-COVID?

Our enterprise application suites focus on two areas, and as a result, we have insight into both. In both cases, the change is definitive and already underway, and adaptation will be critical for the survival of businesses.

Specifically, the healthcare industry will need to operate more efficiently. For Payers, this means getting approvals/denials correct the first time, rapidly assessing Appeals and Grievances and responding accurately, and using technology to enable Population Health and Social Determinants of Health in ways that improve patient outcomes and reduce costs. For Providers, this means using evidence-based guidelines to automate approvals, to reduce readmissions, to more accurately triage patients and to similarly achieve better outcomes. For Pharma, this means bringing new medicines to life faster and at a lower cost. And all of these are true whether you’re talking about something related to COVID or something else. Payers, Providers and Pharma are going to have these efficiency pressures across the board due to the impact that COVID will have on their business.

Across industries, the post-COVID theme can be summed up as “faster access to better information.” There are many facets of this, and I’ll give a few as examples. First is one directly related to COVID, which is quickly educating and informing employees, customers and partners about policies and procedures that may impact them. Perhaps it’s onboarding a global employee base with a new set of in-office work guidelines. Perhaps it’s ensuring customers and partners understand what is expected of them in response to a new CDC or WHO bulletin. Health and safety will remain at the forefront of people’s minds more so than ever.

With the permanent increase in people working remotely, companies have additional IT infrastructure, hardware and software that needs to be carefully monitored and managed. Failure to do so will mean increased costs from unplanned downtime, from excess software and hardware inventory and from excessive support costs.


Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines?

I wake up between 6:30 and 7 am and play with my toddler daughter until 8 am. I have just started to successfully resist the entrepreneur’s urge to wake up and immediately respond to emails first thing because doing so trains your brain to be reactive rather than proactive. I’ll of course make an exception if I know I’m going to be needed for something strategic.

At 8 am, my daughter and I wake up my wife, and the three of us will play together for a bit. I then head down to my home office and respond to urgent emails. The specific morning and afternoon tasks may vary but usually involve preparing for and running our weekly internal All-Hands company call, having a weekly 1:1 with a direct report, joining strategy discussions with partners, or applying my focus to whatever Cadalys needs at the time.

I take an hour’s break mid-day to spend time with the family. I block off times in my calendar specifically to check and respond to email rather than leaving my Inbox open where every new email popping in could be a potential distraction. I will also block off time in my calendar to work on specific strategic initiatives so that I can work uninterrupted during that time.

I’ll usually take another family break around 6 pm or 7 pm, then wrap up work until around 10 pm when I give my daughter her “dream feed,” and then I go to bed.


What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out? unsplash-image-mcSDtbWXUZU.jpg

Top three qualities:

Data-Driven: It’s natural for humans to be passionate about their work, and even more so with entrepreneurs. This passion can have a disproportionate influence on one’s “gut feel,” and I’ve seen many entrepreneurs fail because their gut was sending them in the wrong direction. It’s important to incorporate cold hard facts into decision-making. We’ve thankfully made some changes in direction along the way based on data-driven analyses, even though it seemed counterintuitive at the time.

Excellence in Delivery: If you treat every meeting, every presentation, every customer interaction and every new feature in your product like it’s critical to the success of your company, the excellence that you deliver will open more doors than you can imagine. The vast majority of Cadalys’ success has been a result of being in the metaphorical right place at the right time. I say “metaphorical” because, like my dad (a successful entrepreneur himself) often says, “You make your own luck.” Meaning, if you continue to produce amazing results, then you’ll mysteriously find yourself in the right place at the right time much more often. When Cadalys was formed, it wasn’t to build best-of-breed Health and Life Sciences solutions, and it wasn’t to build best-of-breed engagement solutions. We arrived at those, however, because we had a long track record of professionalism, exceptional quality of work and a passion for the success of our customers. As a result of that reputation, we were approached by partners and visionaries who helped us shape the ideas for our suites of solutions. We have built our business around ideas, open doors, opportunities and alliances that we would never have encountered by doing work that was only “good.”

Being a Human Weeble: There will be failures. You will make mistakes. You will feel like your career and your company are doomed. You will have other setbacks that you can’t even imagine right now. Weebles always get back up no matter how many times they get knocked down, and that is a trait that you will need to be a successful entrepreneur.

Advice for those just starting out: Entrepreneurs must also be optimists. Optimism is a great thing, and it also naturally makes people overestimate things. For example, optimists are more likely to be late because they believe they can get ready to leave the house faster or that they can do work faster or that traffic won’t be as bad, etc. Optimism tends to make entrepreneurs who are just starting out think their cash will last longer than it will, that they will land more customers faster than they will, that unplanned expenses will be smaller than they will, etc. When you are just starting out and doing your initial financial planning, force yourself to consider a worst-case scenario and factor that into your planning. Optimism is a trait with many benefits that will help you make amazing things happen, and it also can lead to dangerous overestimating.



Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

A good friend of mine used to work at a travel agency. One morning she got a frantic call from an irate customer screaming about how the taxi wasn’t there yet to take them to the airport, and they were going to be late for their flight. My friend was understandably confused about why this customer was calling the travel agency about this and was trying to politely help the customer. The customer screamed, “I GOT THE ITINERARY FROM YOU, AND IT SAYS THE TAXI IS INCLUDED.” My friend thought for a moment and asked, “Do you mean where it says ‘taxes included’?” Long pause...customer hangs up.

The important lesson is that something might not be your fault but might still be your problem. In no way was this the travel agency’s fault, but I guarantee that irate customer immediately swore they would never use that agency again.

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Let’s say someone is trying to use a real-time traffic app on their iPhone or Android, but they forgot they turned off the GPS feature on their phone. The traffic app won’t work. Now, there isn’t anything wrong with the traffic app, but it might look that way to the customer. It's not the traffic app’s fault that the customer forgot they turned off the GPS, but when that person concludes that the traffic app is unreliable and doesn’t work, it is the traffic app’s problem. We’ve infused this lesson into Cadalys in many ways. For example, the latest release of our software makes 160 different checks for things a system administrator might have done wrong that would affect our software. Again, not our fault if the administrator makes a mistake outside of our software, but it is our problem if that mistake makes them think our software isn’t working properly. If the software detects one of the 160 mistakes, it informs the system administrator and shows them how to correct it. This new feature of our software not only reduces tickets logged with our Customer Support Center, but it also helps improve the perception of our software. Once the system administrator realizes something was, in fact, their fault, then it is no longer our problem—it doesn’t inadvertently reflect negatively on our software.


If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

Nobel Prize for Chemistry winners Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna. I think a discussion with them about their development of the CRISPR genome editing method, the many implications for better crops and the fight against disease, as well as the many ethical facets, would be a fascinating and enlightening hour.


What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

It’s a quote by Walter Scott: “One hour of life, crowded to the full with glorious action, and filled with noble risks, is worth whole years of those mean observances of paltry decorum, in which men steal through existence, like sluggish waters through a marsh, without either honor or observation.” It resonates with me for reasons I mentioned earlier about looking back on your life and feeling like you really lived it. In the current season of my life, that means rapidly growing Cadalys by providing game-changing software and enabling our customers to achieve things they could otherwise never achieve.



Is There A Parable That You Often Think About? What Is It And What Lesson Does It Teach?

A young boy, who had recently lost his left arm in a car accident, decided to study Judo. After months and months of studying, his instructor was still teaching him the same one move. The boy asked his instructor, “Shouldn’t I be learning more moves?” The instructor replied, “This is the only move you need to know.”

After several more months, the instructor took the boy to compete in his first tournament. The boy surprised himself by easily winning the first two matches. The third match was a more difficult opponent. The opponent charged, but the boy used his one move and beat the opponent. This brought the boy to the finals.

The opponent at the final match was bigger, stronger and more experienced. It seemed certain that the boy was outmatched. However, as the match started, the boy used his one move and won the match and the tournament!

On the way home, the boy asked his instructor how he could have won the tournament with only one move when he was competing against opponents who were bigger, stronger and more experienced. The instructor replied, “You won for two reasons. First, you have been working on mastering one of the most difficult moves in Judo. Second, the only known defense against that move is for the opponent to grab the practitioner’s left arm.”

The parable teaches that what some people might label a weakness might not be a weakness at all but a strength. At Cadalys, when we are up against competitors, we know how they are going to position themselves. We know what they are going to tout as their strengths, and we have a good idea of the ways in which they are going to paint us as having weaknesses. Then, thinking about the specific customer and their business needs, we decide how to use the competitors’ strengths against them as weaknesses and how we are going to position our (mis)perceived weaknesses as strengths.


Who Is Your Role Model?

My dad. In addition to being a successful entrepreneur, he has an uncanny ability to distill a situation into its core components and then communicate to people on their level and in their view of the world. This gives him a next-level ability to break through obstacles and get people on board with an idea. I bounce a lot of things off of him.


What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

Spend time with my family. I don’t have a lot of free time given the speed of our growth and all it entails, and I try to spend as much time with my family as possible.


What Does Success Mean To You?

Every time I get an email from a customer thanking us for helping them transform their business, that is when I have a tremendous feeling of success. Same when an employee describes how they’ve never before had the opportunity to work with such a driven and passionate team—that is another time when I have a tremendous feeling of success.

  Marc Friedman’s Favorites Stack:

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Books:

1. Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It, by Chris Voss

2. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni

3. The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness: How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life in Ten Minutes a Day, by Andy Puddicombe

Health & Fitness:

1. TKO urethane hex dumbbells

2. POM

3. Headspace

Products:

1. DoorDash

2. Salesforce

3. what3words

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. Pocket

2. The Economist

3. Ars Technica

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Australia/New Zealand

2. Thailand

3. The North Pole


- What I Found
Will Young | Sana
young-will CEO of Sana benefits

WILL YOUNG

CEO & Co-Founder of Sana, a full-stack health insurance solution for small businesses.


What Is Sana? Tell Us About What You Do And How It Works.

Sana is a full-stack health insurance solution for small businesses. Sana customers save an average of 20% on healthcare costs while offering their employees rich benefits and access to premium virtual-first care options. There’s a lot under the hood we do to make it work, but it starts with an obsession with patients getting great care at low cost, and it turns out there are a lot of ways to make our health system work better.



What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I have a lot of entrepreneurs in my family, and I looked up to them. I loved the idea of creating something new that could benefit society and building a company that people loved to work at. My Co-Founder Nathan Hackley and I came up with the idea for Sana while we were at Justworks, the payroll and benefits company we were at previously. We saw how broken and expensive health insurance was for businesses. It felt like a big opportunity. 

Neither Nathan nor I come from healthcare backgrounds. Across my career, I’ve worked in Hollywood, in big tech, and in startups. Nathan is a software engineer and designer. Being new to the industry was actually a big advantage for us. When a system is as broken as US healthcare, it can be really helpful to start with a blank slate and work on solutions from first principles. That’s how we started Sana and continue to think about problem-solving today.


sana benefits will young ceo.jpg What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

The best part of starting a business is the people—getting to work with a small group of talented, mission-driven people to build something new. I’m so proud of the team we have, and I enjoy working with them immensely. It’s energizing. The flipside of that is that at times we’ve hired people who aren’t a fit, and we’ve had to let them go. Managing the cases that don’t work out is the worst part of being an entrepreneur. We invest a lot in our interviewing process to mitigate that risk.

It was so challenging to get our first customer. I understood why prospects were reluctant to try Sana: Who wants to be the guinea pig for a new health insurance product? It took us a year and a half of grinding and selling before we got someone to say yes. We only had so much cash in the bank, and every month the funds depleted a little more. I had so much anxiety about it. If we didn’t land a customer, the business could have died before it even had a chance. That was the hardest phase for Sana. Landing that first customer was the most exciting moment because it marked our transition into having actual operations and things started to snowball from there.


What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

Fundraising was very hard at the beginning. We raised angel capital fairly quickly, but institutions balked initially. We have a complicated product that spans insurance, healthcare and small business sales and most VCs were overwhelmed with the complexity of it. Nearly everyone we talked with said we were “too early” for them—even some pre-seed firms, which is hilarious. I quickly learned that “too early” was code for “I’m never going to invest.” After kissing a lot of frogs, we got lucky and found a strategic partner from the world of insurance who understood our vision (Greenlight Re) and then found a couple of VCs who didn’t mind taking bets on complicated models (Gigafund and Trust Ventures). They gave us the capital we needed to prove out the business.

Now, fundraising is easier. We have fast growth and happy customers, and it’s more about optimizing for partners and terms instead of an existential concern like it was in the early days. 


Who Are Your Co-Founders Or People Who You Work Very Closely With? How Do Their Skills Supplement Yours?

Nathan Hackley is my Co-Founder. He is excellent at many things that I am not—engineering, design, product management. More generally, he has a rare ability to understand what customers need and translate that into a technical system that delivers the solution. I am much stronger at the business stuff - finance, partnerships, growth, etc. Our skills are different, but we are very aligned on how we want to build Sana. We see eye to eye on mission and values. I trust his judgment implicitly. We both enjoy being non-conformist, which makes working together fun and probably makes us better founders. We were really lucky to join forces at the inception of Sana. We built a lot of great foundational stuff very quickly with just the two of us because we had a very clear understanding of where we were going, divided work into our separate lanes and just sprinted in parallel. 


How Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Growth And Operation Over The Last Year?

Sana operates health plans for our customers, so COVID was top of mind for us more than typical firms. Our member advocates and website are the front doors to care for many of our members, so we tried to help people in need as much as possible. We promoted telemedicine when people were scared to do in-person visits, promoted vaccine availability where possible and made free mental health visits available to members as the pandemic dragged on. 

Inside of Sana, we have always been a remote-first company. In that way, switching to “work from home” wasn’t much of a challenge. In fact, Nathan and I feel like many of our views on distributed work have been validated as companies test it out and find it can be really great for a lot of people.

How Do You Think Your Industry Will Change Post-COVID?

The silver lining of COVID is that it has laid bare so many issues with our healthcare delivery system and has prompted healthy responses from regulators. Coming out of COVID, I hope we see more sustained adoption of telemedicine, a relaxation of licensing restrictions for practicing medicine cross-borders, more regulations to promote hospital price transparency, and increased support for marginalized groups that are typically underinsured. 


startup sana benefits interview.JPG How Does Sana Stand Out From The Other Modernized Insurance Companies Out There? What Would You Say Is Your Core Competency?

Our core competency is a cultural one. We actually care about your experience with healthcare, and we are trying to make it cheaper and better. The incumbent carriers really don’t care about that stuff. They are too stuck in their ways, and their incentives are perverse in a myriad of ways.


Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule.

I have a year-old daughter who is my alarm clock at 6:30 in the morning. I get to start every day playing with a little baby in pajamas, which I love, even though I am not a morning person. After that, I get ready for work and try to keep the first hour or two of my workday free to think and prioritize. I have a note-taking app, and I keep a daily journal where I lay out my priorities and log what I’m thinking about and whether I’m doing a good job of taking care of myself mentally and physically. That way, I start each day intentionally. The rest of my day is mostly meetings and replying to emails, sadly. It’s not very glamorous. Part of me misses the early days at Sana of focused, quiet work, where I was helping to build the products directly. My job now is mostly coordination between internal stakeholders and talking with investors or strategic partners, so meetings are the name of the game. I don’t work too late most days, maybe to 5 or 6. After work, I try to make time to work out, but I could be better about that. Most nights, I’m good at unplugging for a quiet dinner with my wife and daughter before doing our baby’s bedtime routine. 



What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

You really only need one: extreme drive. If you have that, you can figure everything else out. Being a great entrepreneur isn’t rocket science. It is, however, extremely hard. Firing people is hard. Hearing “no” a thousand times from investors and customers is hard. Losing early customers is hard. Entrepreneurship is “Eating glass while staring into the abyss,” as Elon Musk says. You need to have something abnormal under the hood pushing you to persevere. 

My advice for early entrepreneurs, if you’re serious, is to start. Now. Quit your job. Pitch the idea to investors. Start hearing “no.” Stop making excuses. You’ll likely fail, and that’s fine. It’s not for everyone, but the only way to know for sure whether it’s for you is to try it.

Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

In the early days of Sana, I pitched our business idea to a number of “important” people in the industry. In one week, I pitched the CEO of a prominent insurance carrier, and later I pitched the president of an industry association we were joining. Both of those people told me Sana was a terrible idea and I shouldn’t pursue it. I felt so deflated after each call. These were people who had worked in the industry for decades and knew the business inside and out. It was hard for me as a small beans startup founder with no customers to get a meeting with them. I finally got the call set, gave them my best pitch, and they were so dismissive of all these innovative approaches I thought would work. Those conversations shook me and had me revisit all of my assumptions for the business to make sure I wasn’t wasting my time and our angel investors’ money. Ultimately I disagreed with their assessments and continued to pursue the idea.

It’s pretty clear to me now that those guys were full of it. Dead wrong. Didn’t know what they were talking about.

I take a few lessons away from those calls:

First, is that you need to build conviction in your idea from first principles, not from what conventional wisdom says. Trust your own perspective and logic.

Second, is that people who have been in an industry for decades are going to be resistant to change, even if that change makes sense. So don’t sweat it if they don’t see the world as you do.

Third, is that if your business makes sense, but industry veterans think it’s a bad idea, that’s actually something that should make you really excited.

Being contrarian and right is the only way to really outperform as an entrepreneur, and important people telling you your baby is ugly is a symptom of being onto something exciting.



sana benefits plans insurance.JPG If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

I’m really interested in biotech and the science behind increasing healthspan. I think the next several decades will bring some really exciting changes to our ability to program our bodies and conquer diseases. We already are seeing that in a small way with the mRNA COVID vaccines that were synthesized days after sequencing the virus’ genome. So I might meet with a scientist like Jennifer Doudna or Shinya Yamanaka, though I’d probably make a fool of myself because I’m such a novice in that domain. 

What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

Mostly I hang out with my wife and daughter. I used to read a lot and road bike, but being a Dad really sucks up a lot of free time. 

What Does Success Mean To You?

My favorite business school professor was a guy named Clay Christensen, who sadly passed away last year. He’s famous for coining the term “disruptive innovation,” and his books and class were hugely influential on how I approach company-building. In addition to his books on business, he wrote a book called “How Will You Measure Your Life” that contemplates what it means to live a meaningful life. My main takeaway from it is that success in life is ultimately about how well you cultivate relationships. When I’m at the end of my life, I hope the people around me feel like I’ve made their lives better. To accomplish that, I prioritize spending meaningful, focused time with my family above everything else. With Sana, I care about creating a work environment that people find empowering and inspiring. Ultimately I hope we build a business that makes the world a better place.

  Will Young’s Favorites Stack:

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Books:

1. The Innovators Dilemma (business)

2. Foundation Trilogy (Sci-Fi)

3. The Three Body Problem (More Sci-Fi. I like Sci-Fi, obviously)

Health & Fitness:

1. Garage gym. Lifting heavy weights is the best.

2. Zero - intermittent fasting app

3. Peloton (basic, I know)

Brands:

1. Chubbies (proud Sana customer!)

2. State Bags backpack for work stuff. It’s awesome.

Products:

1. Standing desk from Uplift

2. Cold brew coffee every morning

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

Bali. My wife and I were supposed to go for our honeymoon in 2020 but had to cancel. Someday we will actually do it.


- What I Found
Libie Motchan & Daniel Nelson | Fulton
FultonFounders.jpg

LIBIE MOTCHAN & DANIEL NELSON

Co-Founders of Fulton, a startup that offers sustainable footwear insoles with customized arch support and superior comfort.


What Is Fulton? Tell Us About Your Product and Brand.

Fulton is the modern brand of arch support. Fulton produces comfortable, sustainable, and supportive insoles. We know that full body alignment starts with your feet, and hope to educate consumers about the benefits of supportive footwear on long-term wellness. We also aim to modernize and disrupt a stigmatized category and make orthopedic insoles desirable. Finally, given that the footwear industry contributes to 1.4% of global carbon emissions, we are excited to be using sustainable materials for our entire product.




What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company And How Did You End Up In This Space?

Libie: I have known that I was interested in starting a business since receiving my first allowance. I was a thoughtful hustler; curious to understand the needs of others and find ways to meet them. I thought about different ways to create value. I opened up lemonade stands in the summers, and hosted bake sales after school; eventually, I started a business on eBay when I was in sixth grade. I enjoyed working for myself and the creativity involved in building a business. Furthermore, as the child of immigrant parents, who were both business owners, I never felt tied down to traditional career paths. My mother opened and operated a gallery in Soho and my father ran a graphic design shop. They served as my inspiration and role models, and encouraged me to question the status quo. I also witnessed the ups and downs of owning a business: while my family experienced several years of financial hardship, I learned the value of hard work and perseverance. As I started my career I knew I wanted to start something that would make an impact, but also allow me to utilize my creativity, curiosity, and grit.

Daniel: I have always been fascinated by technology as a means to solve real-world problems. I started my first business when I was in college, helping connect bodegas to their local residents and facilitating convenience item delivery in 15 minutes or less. The product worked well, but this was 2015, and the market for rapid online delivery wasn’t where it is in 2021. Then, I moved into digital consulting, where I helped large multinationals across a variety of industries build technology that was able to deliver value to millions of consumers. I had to quickly learn about commercial banking, insurance, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and more for each project, and figure out how to approach each unique problem. I then went to business school, hoping to find another venture that I’d be able to launch, having experienced both starting my own company and operating at global firms. When I met Libie, we discussed our shared experiences with body pain as a result of unsupportive footwear - immediately, I realized that this industry was ripe for disruption, and that building a better product, brand, and vehicle to educate consumers provided a whitespace that other companies had overlooked.



What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

We chose the name Fulton because it alludes to a street in the heart of New York City. We wanted to build a modern brand of insoles that was relatable to modern consumers, who walk on city streets and need insoles to improve their everyday wellness, as opposed to other brands that target medical use cases or niche demographics.



What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company? _W__7830_EDIT.jpg

Libie: I never could have predicted how rewarding launching my own venture would be in so many different capacities. First, I am solving a problem that I personally experienced and that resulted in physical pain throughout my body. I have the opportunity to educate consumers, and help them prevent pain in the future, and knowing I am doing that feels really good. Nothing feels better than customers reaching out and sharing how Fulton has healed their chronic back pain, or helped their Plantar Fasciitis; but the best is when the feedback comes from people who have never worn insoles before, because that means that we have effectively educated a customer about the importance of supportive footwear. In addition to helping customers, I feel very rewarded knowing that I have built something new. I don’t have a background in orthotics or podiatry, so I had to learn so much about materials, biomechanics, anatomy, etc., in order to create our first product. It feels so incredible to know that I created something new; a physical product that is different from anything else out there. It required extensive hard work, testing, research, and iteration, but the final product is something I am so proud of.

Entrepreneurship sometimes feels incredibly uncertain. I am the type of person who prefers a clear plan: but with a startup, there is only so much you can predict. Furthermore, since so much of the industry and category is new to me, there are often many more questions than answers. I’ve learned to lean into the uncertainty, by understanding the gaps in my knowledge and prioritizing getting answers. Another challenge of entrepreneurship is balancing life and work. Fulton has become so central to my identity and my life that it is hard to turn it off, and I often don’t want to. I find myself working at all hours. The transition to working on Fulton full time has been challenging as well, and I am still in the process of creating more structure in my work life.

Daniel: My favorite part of the journey has been the fact that I get to consistently keep learning new things: no two days have ever been the same. We incubated a seedling of an idea into a physical product: finding a manufacturer, understanding the technical specifications, selecting materials, and running a pilot. We developed a brand: a name, logo, look and feel, and website. We stood up an international supply chain and launched our company during a global pandemic. The variety of the work that I have been able to do across the lifecycle of building our brand has been beyond rewarding - this has continued to be more interesting as we enter into the post-launch scaling phase of the company.

My least favorite part has certainly been importing our products from abroad. Our manufacturer has been a fantastic partner, but we have experienced extremely high shipping rates, delays, and miscommunications with nearly every shipping team we have partnered with. I’ve had too many late nights and early mornings with customer service trying to understand why our packages were being held up in customs or why they ended up in the Philippines instead of Philadelphia (true story). It’s definitely been a whirlwind, but we paid our dues and now know how it all works!


Tell Us About How Each Of Your Skill Sets Supplements That Of Your Co-Founder.

Daniel has a strong strategy, technology, and operations background, while Libie has a strong marketing and research background. Naturally, those two pair very well for building a digitally-enabled brand. We both have a unique blend of academic, startup, and corporate experience that have given us a holistic understanding of exploring unique problems and scaling solutions.



What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

Thus far, we’ve raised a small amount from family and friends to help get the brand off the ground. Since our launch, we’ve been blown away by the feedback from customers and are currently speaking with investors to prepare for a seed round. We plan to invest the funding towards growing the company and building out the organization. We’ve been testing several different channels and are excited to continue building them out.


_W__7140_EDIT.jpg As A DTC Company, What Are Some Of The Marketing Strategies You’ve Implemented That Have Been Most Effective So Far?

We recently launched out of home advertising around NYC; this included wheat posting at construction sites, spray painting sidewalks, and hanging pull-tab fliers around downtown Manhattan. It got a lot of buzz - we were intentionally thinking about meeting people in places where they are walking - so the streets of NYC were a natural place to go!





Do You See Fulton Expanding Into Other Product Categories Relating To Either Footwear Or Wellness In General? Anything In The Works That Will Be Launching Soon?

We’re currently hyper focused on getting our Fulton Insoles into people’s shoes across the country, but we are definitely looking at expanding into product categories. There are many opportunities to create insoles for various types of shoes and use cases, so we are working with our customers to understand their most urgent needs and build out our product roadmap.


How Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Growth and Operation Over The Last Year?

COVID-19 made standing up a global supply chain incredibly difficult - we were only able to visit our manufacturer once (pre-pandemic) and had to prototype together from overseas for months. Additionally, shipping lead times have been long and prices have been high. Despite the operational challenges, we’ve seen some shifts in favor of our business: people are wearing more comfortable shoes, caring more about wellness and sustainability, purchasing products online, etc. It’s been a very unique time to launch a business, and we look forward to rebuilding as the world emerges from the pandemic.



What Does Your Typical Day Look Like? ATLAS_8396_EDIT.jpg

Libie: I love to start most mornings with either a run or a Pilates class. I’m fortunate to live close to the running path by the Hudson river on the West Side Highway in NYC which I’ve been taking advantage of. I usually take some calls and meetings from home, and then head out to a WeWork for the rest of the day. We’ve been switching locations everyday, so we get to mix it up with new spaces and faces. In the evenings I love cooking meals at home, or in the summer going for picnics or walks - I haven’t been living in NYC for the last two years and I love taking advantage of the nice summer evenings. I often end my evenings with some work, I find myself very creative at the late hours!

Daniel: I generally start my morning by talking with our manufacturer - they’re based in Europe, so are already well into their workday by the time I wake up. I tend to jump into a quick workout, shower, and have tea (no more coffee!) to ramp up my energy and prepare for the day. Then, I take some meetings from home and head out to the WeWork for in person meetings and strategy sessions. Every day is different, but we usually stay at the office until dinnertime. I try to take a walk for 30-60 minutes every day and either listen to a podcast or audiobook as well. I’ve always prioritized taking a nice walk to maintain mental and physical wellness - wearing a nice pair of comfortable, supportive insoles always helps. Then, I head back home and relax a bit before knocking out around midnight and doing it all again!



What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

Libie:  Gritty, open-minded, and humble. I would advise entrepreneurs to be incredibly open minded, and ask a lot of questions. It’s important to get a broad set of opinions and perspectives bt take everything with a grain of salt because there is truly no “right” way to be an entrepreneur. I also think its important to be open to wearing many hats, and willing to take on any task, no matter how big or small.

Daniel: 

Being a systems thinker- like to deconstruct complex systems and understand how things work, what incentives drive what outcomes in any given industry. You need to become the expert, so if you don’t have a true understanding of the space you are going into, you’ll need to learn how to become the smartest person about it in any given room.

Building out a vision- for me, it’s the best way to understand what you are truly solving for. Rather than just a cool idea that solves a problem, a vision allows you to build a company that will be able to self-sustain and continuously innovate. There are many great ideas, but great companies come from philosophies that are guided by a better vision of how things should work.

Ability to go from 0 to 100 on an idea- as an entrepreneur, you really need to be passionate. It’s going to take some time to truly see the rewards, and you will need to be 100% invested from start to finish. It took us nearly two years to get from idea to launch, and you’ll need to be as passionate on day 720 as you were on Day 1.

_W__7739_EDIT.jpg Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

Daniel: Libie and I were in a business school class and we pitched our idea for Fulton. The professor, in a bit of disbelief that young people actually wanted to wear insoles, asked the students in the room to raise their hands if they currently wore some type of orthotic. To everyone’s surprise, about 75% of the room’s hands went up. It was incredibly validating to us as entrepreneurs, learning that this seemingly rare behavior is actually quite prevalent, and taught us to continue trusting our gut and our research despite what others may think along the way.

If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be And Why?

Daniel: Roger Federer. I’ve been a huge tennis fan for as long as I can remember, and have always admired his ability to demonstrate true dominance, class, and leadership throughout his career. I’ve always been inspired by his work ethic off the court and his incredibly calm, effortless style of play on the court, and aspire to emulate him as I think about building out my own career and personal life.


What Does Success Mean To You?

Libie: Success means finding and pursuing a career that is fulfilling. For me, that requires work that involves creativity and challenge. I need to be solving problems that force me to think differently and creatively. I’ve always been excited about a career in entrepreneurship because it allows me to do both of these things.

Daniel: To me, success means getting to control your own life. Although I love intellectually stimulating work, I didn’t love the reasons i was pursuing them in the past: “for a client” or “for a manager.” I wanted to find my own problems and solve them, which is why entrepreneurship became so appealing to me. Granted, there’s so much on a given day that is beyond the scope of my control. However, understanding the larger vision I am building towards and getting to create my own day-to-day life in light of that has been incredibly enriching. Success means allowing me to keep controlling where I invest my time and energy, a luxury that I now hope to maintain for the rest of my career. 

  Libie Motchan’s Favorites Stack:

41k+WVPLwZL.jpg

Books:

1. Shoe Dog

2. The Count of Monte Cristo

Health & Fitness:

1. Body By Bridget - founded by a Wharton alumni- best workout on the internet!

Brands:

1. Girlfriend Collective

2. Youthforia

Products:

1. Trader Joe’s everything

2. Material Kitchen Cookware - their products are so thoughtfully designed, and make it so I can avoid clutter in my small NYC kitchen

3. Headspace

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. Nik Sharma’s weekly newsletter

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Italy!

2. Japan



- What I Found
Genevieve Ryan Bellaire | Realworld
Genevieve Ryan Bellaire.jpg

GENEVIEVE RYAN BELLAIRE

CEO & Founder of Realworld, a platform, marketplace, and community to navigate adulthood and important life moments.


What Is Realworld? Tell Us About What You Do, Who Your Target Audience Is, And What Your Mission Is.

Realworld is a first-of-its-kind platform simplifying adulthood for the next generation. Our education-first mobile application and website offer expertly-sourced, personalized, step-by-step guidance, teaching Gen-Z how to make informed decisions when it comes to their finances, health, and work life. Our signature “playbooks” cover big life moments (moving, starting a new job), and everyday events (budgeting, credit cards, going to the dentist), in an easy to follow, achievement-oriented way.



What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

I’m a lawyer by background and started my career in the financial services industry. After I graduated from college, I went directly to graduate school, which meant that I entered the ‘real world’ later than most of my peers. It wasn’t until I started working full-time that I realized that despite being blessed with amazing educational opportunities, I was actually underprepared for many decisions around my finances, health care, taxes, and living situation that I faced after graduation. I began talking about the problem with colleagues, friends, and family and learned that I wasn’t alone in experiencing the pain points of ‘adulting.’ 

I got obsessed with this problem space and realized there wasn’t a company focused on helping onboard young adults into life in the “real world” so I conducted extensive customer discovery by talking to over 1000 people (recent graduates, parents, college administrators, employers, and more) to confirm my hypothesis. The pattern was clear: everyone I spoke to was just muddling through these different life decisions and could benefit from a platform that helped them navigate day-to-day adulting decisions and big life moments. I decided to launch Realworld as the solution. Even today, we’re constantly hearing “I wish I had this when I was younger” which demonstrates the reality that even people a few years into the workforce could use this type of solution!


Realworld Graphic.png What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

My favorite part of this journey is definitely the impact - seeing young people take action on what they learn on the Realworld platform motivates me and our team to keep building and improving our product. Whether a member did something simple like remember to pay a bill on time, or something huge like sign up for an IRA - taking action (and understanding why they’re doing it) is a HUGE win. 

One of the newer challenges has been hiring - it’s a hyper competitive talent market right now as so many people reevaluate what work looks like post-pandemic, and finding the right people for each role has been a time consuming process. That being said, building an amazing team has been one of the most exciting parts of this journey and critical to our success as a company. Each new hire brings fresh energy and enthusiasm for the problem we’re solving and brings a fresh expertise to the table to solve it and propel the company forward to the next milestone. 


What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

We closed our seed round of $3.4M in March! The process was modified due to the pandemic (lots of meetings on Zoom) but we were fortunate to end up working with investors who have followed our journey since the earliest days and understand how big our vision is. VC funding has helped us accelerate the speed at which we can build and improve our product, hire a world-class team, and establish Realworld as the leading company in the adulting space. We’ve tripled our team in the last few months and we’re still hiring -- if you’re a stellar Head of Growth Marketing or a Fullstack Engineer who wants to make an impact at a seed-stage, mission-driven startup, reach out to team@realworld.co! More on our investors here:

Who Are Your Co-Founders Or People Who You Work Very Closely With? How Do Their Skills Supplement Yours?

Our earliest hires were our Head of Brand, Gillian Katz and our Head of Product, Rebecca Abramson. While my role demands big picture, visionary thinking, Rebecca is able to provide a tactical, structured plan of execution. Gillian is responsible for speaking to the emotional side of the user experience, making sure our platform is fun, visually delightful, and resonates with our member. I think big, Rebecca thinks tactically, and Gillian thinks creatively - without each in harmony, Realworld would not be nearly as impactful as it is today. 



How Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Growth And Operation Over The Last Year?

COVID-19 presented challenges for every company. We launched our new web app in April 2020, and while launch did not look like we had initially planned, our resources were actually more critical than ever, as the Classes of 2020 and 2021 learned to navigate the evolving workplace ecosystem. We created an entirely new vertical of content around unemployment, furlough, and the impacts of COVID on student loans, leasing, and more. 



960x0.jpg Can You Tell Us About Some Of Your Numbers? How Has Growth Been Over The Past Couple Of Years?

Before this Spring, Realworld worked directly with universities and colleges to provide resources to their seniors and recent graduates. Throughout the last year, especially due to the impacts on this population during COVID, we decided to pivot to offer our platform for free to anyone regardless of their affiliation with a partner school. Not only did this model make more sense for the release of our mobile application and our community’s growth, but it was completely in-line with our mission to provide equitable access to resources to anyone navigating adulting. 



What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

The company was founded with the name Realworld Playbook - it tells you exactly what we are, a playbook for life in the real world. When we focused our attention on creating a consumer-driven experience, we shortened the name to Realworld. The platform covers everything you need to know about life in the ‘real world’ from personal finances, to taxes, to health insurance, to employer paperwork, etc. Our goal is to become the “real world” company. 


Tell Us About Your Daily Routine.

I wake up around 6am and exercise, then take the subway down to our office in SoHo. I am a big “breakfast person”, so I pick up something on the way in (I'm loyal to the local deli). 

That’s about where the routine stops, as every day is truly different and I never know what to expect. From working on product direction, to checking in on growth, to connecting with investors, new talent, and others in our network - every day brings a new challenge and a new exciting opportunity for Realworld. 



What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

I’ve learned that the most important traits to have when starting a business can be summed up in the “3 Rs” - Resilient, Resourceful, and Relentless. You have to be able to bounce back from (constant) adversity, operate with little resources across time, talent, and treasure, and to persevere through the many challenges that starting a company brings. Hearing ‘No’ is par for the course when it comes to entrepreneurship - so facing that head-on with a scrappy, flexible, and optimistic mindset is a huge part of striving for success. Just keep going. 

As far as advice, I’d tell new entrepreneurs to build a network of other founders, funders, operators, and advocates who they can turn to for advice at every turn. There’s no way to know what to do at every stage of a company’s lifecycle, so it’s key to have a personal board of people who have been there before and who have either been successful at it or who have made mistakes they can protect you from making in your own business. 



good.png If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

Lin-Manuel Miranda - he’s so creative and has defined a new genre. As someone working to build a category-creating company, it would be inspiring to hear about how he’s created new spaces for innovation and what process he uses to think outside of the box. As an American History buff, I’d also love to talk to him about Alexander Hamilton! 


What Does Success Mean To You?

To me, success is three-fold: 1. Building a company that has a meaningful impact on the next generation, 2. Building a company that people want to work at, and 3. Creating quality jobs for people. 

When building a mission-driven company it always comes back to impact - having an impact on our users and their experience is what drives me and my team, and that’s ultimately how we measure the success of Realworld.

  Genevieve Ryan Bellaire’s Favorites Stack:

Books:

1. No Rules Rules by Reed Hastings

2. Get Together by Bailey Richardson

3. A Separate Peace by John Knowles

Health & Fitness:

1. Daily Harvest

2. Equinox

3. Alo Yoga

Brands:

1. Outdoor Voices

2. Glossier

3. Thousand Fell

Products:

1. Remarkable Tablet

2. AirPods

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. StrictlyVC Newsletter

2. How I Built This with Guy Raz

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Morocco

2. South Africa

3. Chile


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IFA 2023 attendees will have the opportunity to network with close to 4,000 franchise executives and hear from the biggest players in the franchise game.
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Business Buyers – Stop Complaining About Brokers
A buyer’s success or failure is up to the buyer, not the broker. Your knowledge, or lack thereof, about the various stages in the business buying process is what will determine the outcome.
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10 Dos And Don’ts To Jumpstart Your Journey To The TED Stage
It can be daunting trying to get through the submission process.
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The New Real Estate Game: A Future-Ready Framework For CRE Investment
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Four Sure-Fire Ways To Become A Value Creator In Your Business Or Community
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Personality And Job Success: How To Separate The Method From The Madness
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6 Ways to Develop a Success-Driven Culture While Avoiding Burnout

Building a winning culture within an organisation is a crucial step when trying to build a business that strives for success and constant improvement.

6 Ways to Develop a Success-Driven Culture While Avoiding Burnout

Without the belief and backing of a strong, motivated and happy team, all of these dreams can pale into insignificance, especially if your hyper-focused ideas begin to tire and burn them out.

While this strategy sounds like the ideal situation for your business to be in, it isn’t entirely risk-averse. Cultures that live and breathe success naturally create competitive environments, which can become toxic, leading to burnout, low morale, and tanking productivity.

This is why it’s absolutely essential to get the balance just right if this strategy is one you’re certain of pursuing.

In this piece, we’ll be looking at exactly how you create this high-performance culture without pushing your staff too far.

The Signs of Burnout

Burnout is very much a 21st-century phenomenon, however, since the height of the pandemic, the lines between our work and personal lives are increasingly difficult to distinguish.

A recent survey shows that the average working week for many full-time employees now averages around 47 hours a week, and 18% in the recent poll claim to be working more than 60 hours or more every week.

Burnout is characterised as a state of both emotional and physical exhaustion. This can typically occur when workers are experiencing high levels of stress, or when they have been working within an emotionally demanding environment over a long period.

The Signs of Burnout

So, as a leader, what signs do you need to be aware of when it comes to burnout:

Complete exhaustion and lethargy. Negative emotions and attitudes within the team. Drop in productivity levels. Overwhelmed by the burden of the workload.

With this being the case, it’s very easy to see how a success-driven culture might contribute to these symptoms, when not executed correctly.

Burnout isn’t something that can be fixed on its own, and once it starts to creep into the team it can begin to impact everyone.

This means you have only two options available to you. One is to address the issues that can contribute to burnout and make some serious changes to your working practices. Or, the alternative, and by far the better option, create a culture that not only strives for success but seeks to protect your employees against the ill effects of these difficulties.

6 Ways to Develop a Success-Driven Culture While Avoiding Burnout #1: Shape Your Business Personality

In order to mould a winning attitude, your staff must feel aligned with the values you’ve laid out before them. Without values that everyone can get behind and feel a part of, you risk allowing some of the team to drift away, no longer feeling integral to the success of the business.

Rather than sitting in your office and scribbling a few disparate ideas, include the team in the process – after all, they’re the ones out there on the ground each day, and they know better than anyone else what they’d like to change about the current culture.

Remember, shifting direction isn’t an overnight process, so you can afford to play around with ideas and new working methods until you find something that suits everyone, to ensure they feel included as your business grows and finds new ways to win.

#2: Be the Example

As a leader within your business, you are the glue that holds the thing together. If you’re not setting the tone for everyone, then this will trickle down into your teams and this is when mediocrity becomes the norm for everyone.

If you want to grasp this opportunity for a highly-successful culture, you need to conscientiously make the decision to embrace the culture. There’s nothing better for an employee than seeing a leadership figure with enthusiasm and passion.

This means you have to be seen to be in the trenches each day, and make yourself available to them for support and to create and maintain a constant stream of communication.

Most importantly though, it must be you that emphasises how important it is to celebrate the wins – no matter how big or small.

#3: Customise Progression

Customise Progression

Within any organisation, an employee must feel as though they have opportunities to grow, sharpen their skills and move around within the business.

There’s nothing more demoralising than feeling as though you’re stuck in a role that offers no chance of promotion or progression.

That said, the term “progression” isn’t linear and can mean different things to different people. For example, for some, it may mean they wish to move sideways to another part of the business to try something different.

Whatever the case may be, it’s very important that you spend some time with each employee outlining what their goals are, what they need to work towards achieving these goals and ultimately deciding on how their role will evolve in the future.

Remember, there is no right or wrong way to do this. While, yes, many will want to advance and move up the ladder, some may feel more comfortable trying to get the best from themselves in their current role, or might even wish to test their skills in other areas of the business.

It’s important that everyone knows that this process isn’t rigid and there is always room for this to change as the business evolves.

#4: Avoid Micromanaging

Of course, offering up yourself to your staff when they need you is absolutely necessary when contributing towards a successful culture.

The big caveat here though is not to allow yourself to slip into micromanagement. If you find that your employees are deferring to you on even the smallest of details, then it probably means you need to step back and allow your team to do their thing.

You may mean well by getting yourself involved with the team, but if you’re too involved, then you’re only serving to stifle creativity and deflate their confidence.

This will inevitably lead to confusion as you’re essentially pushing your team into a backseat role, which appears to them like you’ve lost trust in their abilities.

Everyone is different, which means that every employee may have a different methodology when it comes to getting things done. So long as robust procedures are followed, then you should be able to hand your team the reins with complete confidence.

#5: Keep Things Simple

The theory of Occam’s Razor states that should you have several competing ideas, the simplest and most direct option is almost always the correct one.

Although this principle can be attributed to the 14th century, it should be your guiding principle when it comes to running your business and striving for that success-driven culture.

Simplicity is always the best course of action when it comes to implementing processes within your business, for several reasons:

Easy to understand – everyone knows where you’re going, why you’re going there and what they need to do to make it happen. Everyone invests in it – once everyone gets point one, their level of confidence and trust in the process increases exponentially. Easier to duplicate – a simple model that ticks all the boxes is much easier to duplicate for other processes down the line. Measure results – complex strategies are often harder to measure, by keeping it simple it’s easy to see what goes in and what comes out. #6: Prioritise Wellbeing

We already know that the culture within an organisation defines the ‘why’ behind the business’s existence, and therefore impacts working processes and how your employees experience your developing culture day-to-day.

However, if your working practices and expectations aren’t aligned with what your employees are expecting then everything we’ve covered in this blog so far will come to nothing.

It’s incredibly important to ensure that employee well-being is at the forefront of everything you do, this includes both physical and mental well-being.

By taking your teams’ thoughts and feelings into account, you can create an environment where team members feel valued, energised and motivated.

Takeaways

Sidestepping burnout and creating a team that are motivated to help develop your vision of a success-driven culture are often one and the same. This means, if you don’t invest in your staff, it’s very difficult to achieve the goals you’ve set.

Embedding a new culture into the workplace is never an easy, nor quick fix. However, once you’ve put the time and work into making it work, you’ll find that both you and your employees are grateful for the fantastic results.

The post 6 Ways to Develop a Success-Driven Culture While Avoiding Burnout appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
How Much Does The Catering Service Cost?

If you have an idea for a new business setup in Sharjah, you might consider establishing a catering service in the third most populous city in UAE. Whether you are a newbie or an advanced business person looking to expand your business footprint, a company registered for catering services would be an ideal look for you.

Interested in learning more? Well, read on. In this blog, we will explore the following;

What are the potential business costs? Business requirements Steps to setting up the business How can SPC Free Zone help?

How Much Does The Catering Service Cost?

How much does the catering service cost?

There are several potential business costs that a catering service in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) may incur during setup. You may also wish to register a free zone company in Sharjah. I shared more details on this at the end of this article.

First and foremost, the costs are associated with obtaining the necessary licenses and permits from the local government. This may include fees for obtaining a food handling and preparation permit from the municipality and a trade license from the Department of Economic Development (DED).

Another high cost is the cost of renting or leasing a commercial kitchen. This may include the costs of renting a space, as well as any necessary renovations or upgrades to the kitchen to meet local health department standards.

The cost of purchasing equipment, such as ovens, stoves, and other kitchen appliances, can also be high. Additionally, there is the cost of purchasing food and other supplies, such as ingredients, utensils, and tableware.

Another potential cost is the cost of hiring staff, such as chefs, servers, and other support staff. This may include the cost of recruiting, hiring, and training staff and ongoing salaries and benefits.

Marketing and advertising costs can also be significant, especially in the early stages of the business. This may include the costs of creating a website, printing flyers and brochures, and advertising in local media.

Finally, liability insurance is necessary to protect the business in case of accidents or mishaps.

In summary, potential business costs for a catering service in the UAE include

the cost of obtaining licenses and permits, the cost of renting or leasing a commercial kitchen, the cost of purchasing equipment and supplies, the cost of hiring staff, the cost of marketing and advertising, and the cost of liability insurance. Business requirements

In order to operate a catering service in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), several business requirements must be met.

Obtaining the necessary licenses and permits from the local government is important. This may include obtaining a food handling and preparation permit from the municipality and a trade license from the Department of Economic Development (DED) as stated above.

Additionally, it is important to have a commercial kitchen that meets the standards set by the local health department. This may include having a designated area for food storage, preparation, and cooking and proper sanitation and hygiene practices.

It is also important to have a strong understanding of the local market and customer base and a well-developed business plan. This may include researching the competition, identifying target customers, and developing a menu that appeals to the local palate.

Another important aspect is to have a professional team, including chefs, servers, and other staff members with the necessary experience and skills to provide excellent customer service and produce high-quality food.

Finally, it is essential to have liability insurance to protect your business in case of any accidents or mishaps.

In summary, to operate a catering service in the UAE, you need to obtain the necessary licenses and permits, have a commercial kitchen that meets health department standards, have a well-developed business plan, have a professional team, and have liability insurance.

Steps to setting up the business

Setting up a catering business in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) involves several steps, including:

Research the market: Research the local market and customer base to understand the demand for catering services in the area and identify the competition. Develop a business plan: Develop a comprehensive business plan that includes information about the target market, services offered, pricing strategy, and projected financials. Obtain licenses and permits: Obtain the necessary licenses and permits from the local government, including a food handling and preparation permit from the municipality and a trade license from the Department of Economic Development (DED). Secure a commercial kitchen: Rent or lease a commercial kitchen that meets local health department standards and is suitable for the scale of your business. Purchase equipment and supplies: Purchase necessary equipment, such as ovens, stoves, and other kitchen appliances, and ingredients and supplies, such as utensils and tableware. Hire staff: Hire experienced and skilled staff, such as chefs, servers, and other support staff. Marketing and Advertising: Create a website, print flyers and brochures, and advertise in local media to inform people about your services. Obtain liability insurance: Obtain liability insurance to protect the business in case of accidents or mishaps. Launch and operate the business: Once all the steps are done, launch and operate the business according to your business plan, providing high-quality food and excellent customer service.

In summary, setting up a catering business in the UAE involves researching the market, developing a business plan, obtaining licenses and permits, securing a commercial kitchen, purchasing equipment and supplies, hiring staff, marketing and advertising, obtaining liability insurance, and launching and operating the business.

Licensing and documentation required

​​To set up a catering business in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), several licenses and documents are required. These include:

Trade License: Obtain a trade license from the Department of Economic Development (DED) in the emirate where the business will be located. This license is necessary to legally operate a business in the UAE. Food Handling and Preparation Permit: Obtain a local municipality’s food handling and preparation permit. This permit is required to ensure that the business meets the necessary health and safety standards. Commercial Kitchen Approval: Obtain approval for the commercial kitchen from the local health department. This includes ensuring that the kitchen meets the necessary sanitation and hygiene standards. Insurance: Obtain liability insurance to protect the business in case of any accidents or mishaps. Emirates ID and passport: The catering business’s owner should have a valid ID. Health certificate: A health certificate will be required to confirm that the catering business’s owner and staff members are healthy and do not have any contagious disease. Business Plan: A business plan will be required as part of the trade license and other permit application process.

In summary, the licensing and documentation required to set up a catering business in the UAE include a trade license, a food handling and preparation permit, commercial kitchen approval, insurance, Emirates ID and passport, a health certificate, and a business plan. It is important to note that requirements may vary depending on the specific emirate and municipality where the business is located.

How can SPC Free Zone help?

Setting up a catering business in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) can be simplified with the help of a Special Purpose Company (SPC) Free Zone. These free zones provide a range of benefits for businesses, including:

100% foreign ownership: In an SPC Free Zone, the business can be 100% foreign-owned, eliminating the need for a local sponsor. Easy and fast setup process: SPC Free Zones typically have a streamlined business setup process with minimal bureaucracy and paperwork. Access to a wide range of services: SPC Free Zones often provide a range of services, including business centers, meeting rooms, and virtual office services, which can help to support the business. Access to a large customer base: SPC Free Zones are often located in areas with many businesses and individuals, providing easy access to a wide customer base.

In summary, SPC Free Zones can help to simplify the process of setting up a catering business in the UAE by offering 100% foreign ownership, an easy and fast setup process, access to a wide range of services, and a large customer base.

The post How Much Does The Catering Service Cost? appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
8 Advantages of In-Home Product Testing Over Central Location Tests

Companies often use product testing for feedback from real customers, allowing them to improve products before launch. Two of the most common methods of testing include an in-home usage test (IHUT) and a central location test (CLT). In this article, we share with you reasons why in-home testing products are the better choice.

Advantages of In-Home Product Testing Over Central Location Tests

In-Home Product Testing Helps Create a Natural Response

Allowing consumers to test a product in the comfort of their homes helps provide a more natural response.

The testing occurs in a natural environment instead of a controlled central location. This allows consumers to interact with the product exactly as they would if they had purchased it and brought it home.

In-Home Testing Helps Refine Prototypes

In-home testing products are often prototypes. Companies can use in-home testing to receive feedback on prototypes before developing the final version of a product.

You can use the feedback from consumers to refine your product and improve its design before releasing it to the public.

In-Home Testing Expands Your Reach

You can reach more potential participants with at-home testing compared to central location testing. Most people do not want to travel to participate in a study, even if they are compensated for their time.

With in-home testing, people can test products without leaving their houses. This increases participation. You may find it easier to attract participants for your tests when offering in-home testing. You can also reach participants in other countries.

Receive Honest Opinions and Feedback

Participants are more likely to offer honest opinions and feedback when testing products from their homes. Participants in a central location may feel pressured to hold back on negative responses.

Receiving an honest appraisal is essential for identifying any potential faults before the official product launch. You can fix any issues and deliver a better product.

Choose from a Variety of Survey Formats

In-home testing is typically completed at a time that works best for the participant. They test the product and submit their feedback via a survey.

The survey can be completed using a variety of formats. Common choices include web-based forms, mobile apps, and paper questionnaires.

Encouraging participants to complete the survey as they test the product can help ensure more accurate feedback. If a participant waits too long, their opinion may become skewed based on their emotions.

You Do Not Need a Physical Location

Not all businesses have a physical location where they can arrange to meet with large groups, such as a focus group for central location testing. In some cases, businesses may choose to rent out temporary office space, which adds to the cost of testing.

In-home product testing helps reduce the cost of testing, as you do not need to compensate consumers for parking or spend extra on office space. Sending products to consumers’ homes also simplifies the logistics of your testing.

Give Your Business a Competitive Advantage

If your competitors do not currently rely on in-home usage tests (IHUTs), you can give your business a competitive advantage.

The insight that you gain can help you better understand the needs of your customers. You become better equipped to address your customers’ biggest pressure points. The changes that you make to your products based on customer feedback can also help you create a more attractive option for consumers.

Third-Party Companies Arrange Testing

In-home product testing is another area where businesses can save time and money by outsourcing. You can outsource your testing to a company that specializes in in-home usage tests.

These companies understand how to reach out and attract participants. They handle the entire process, from recruiting participants to sending the products and collecting feedback.

The post 8 Advantages of In-Home Product Testing Over Central Location Tests appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
Managing Your Work-Life Balance as an Entrepreneur

Business owners and entrepreneurs are often held to a higher standard when it comes to maintaining a successful career while also having an excellent work-life balance. After all, if you can’t handle both sides of the equation, your business is likely to suffer.

But managing both aspects of life doesn’t have to be a grueling struggle – with some guidance and dedication, you can learn how to make “work smarter not harder” your mantra this year.

In this blog post, we will discuss the methods necessary for achieving the perfect work-life balance as an entrepreneur so that you can make progress without sacrificing family time or personal happiness.

Managing Your Work-Life Balance as an Entrepreneur

Make Time for Your Family

As an entrepreneur, it can be easy to get swept up in the pursuit of success and put practically all your energy into growing your business. While this is certainly essential for making sure that you achieve your goals, taking time to dedicate to your family should not be neglected.

Making time for family should still be a priority even when you’re hard at work trying to make something of yourself. It’s important to remember that spending quality time with the people you love can help keep you grounded and motivated through tough times.

Not only that, but it also gives much-needed respite from the strain of being an entrepreneur – a reminder to take joy in simpler things. Ultimately, building relationships within your family doesn’t just bring psychological benefits; it also helps foster emotional well-being during life’s challenges.

There are a number of things you can do in order to achieve this. Many choose to do activities, such as visiting their local library, zoo, or aquarium.

Manage Your Health

Taking care of your health is essential for entrepreneurs to be able to thrive – it forms the foundation for everything else you do in business. When entrepreneurs have poor physical and mental health, even the most promising businesses can end up struggling and failing.

Managing your health while running a business is not easy, but it’s worth taking the time to prioritize. This can look different depending on your personal needs but could include ensuring you get enough sleep, eating nutritious food, and exercising regularly. Taking steps towards better managing your health will result in you having more energy, being better able to manage stress levels, and providing yourself with a strong foundation that allows you to take on the rigors of being an entrepreneur with confidence.

Taking care of your health can come in different ways. Whether it’s ensuring you’re eating well and exercising regularly, or utilizing tools to reduce your anxiety, there are many ways that you will be able to help distress and decompress as a business owner.

Prioritize Family-Friendly Activities

Finding the time to prioritize family-friendly activities in your downtime may seem impossible – especially when you are an entrepreneur trying to juggle a million things at once. However, dedicating some of your precious spare time to spending quality moments with loved ones can truly lead to greater success.

Not only will it give you an opportunity to keep your personal relationships healthy and vibrant, it also provides a chance for much-needed relaxation which can directly influence productivity and creativity during business hours.

Whenever there is a lull in work-related activities, set aside the time specifically spent with family and friends – the results will speak for themselves. Activities can include things like visiting museums to view art, zoos and aquariums to interact with animals, and various local businesses to both interact with the community, create, and share.

You can have it all, but you can’t do it all. As an entrepreneur, learning how to manage your work-life balance is crucial to your success. By following the tips in this blog post, you will be on your way to a healthier and more balanced lifestyle.

The post Managing Your Work-Life Balance as an Entrepreneur appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Amy Jones
The Most Valuable Tips To Help Protect Your Business Assets

Owning, running, and eventually scaling a business is not an easy task. Even the most successful business owners have had to make detrimental mistakes to learn how to succeed. The assets that your business accumulates over time, whether it is financial or physical assets, should always be protected in preparation for the worst-case scenario.

Calculating risks is the key to maintaining success, as planning for possible failures equips you to manage such scenarios quickly, and on a controllable scale. Losing all of your assets is a result of poor business planning which is a mistake many entrepreneurs make, and if you wish to reduce the risk of this happening take a look at our following suggestions.

The Most Valuable Tips To Help Protect Your Business Assets

Why Should Businesses Protect Them?

Businesses have a lot of assets that need to be protected, such as customer information, financial data, and company secrets. If these assets are not properly protected, it can lead to serious consequences for the business, such as financial losses, legal issues, and damage to the company’s reputation. Some asset losses might seem less long-term than others, but they can have a failing snowball effect on each other if not accurately managed.

One of the biggest threats to business assets is cyber attacks. Hackers can access sensitive information and steal valuable data, causing irreparable damage to the company. To protect against cyber attacks, businesses should implement strong security measures, such as firewalls, antivirus software, and encryption. They should also regularly update their systems and software to ensure that they are protected against the latest threats.

What Assets Do Businesses Have

The assets owned by a business can come in many forms. Each one holds reputable value, whereby if one is lost, it can be detrimental to the business. Here are the different genres of business assets:

Financial assets such as cash and investments Physical assets such as investment property, equipment, and inventory Intellectual property such as patents, trademarks, and copyrights Human resources such as employees Digital assets such as software, databases, and websites Brand assets such as logos, slogans, and reputation Strategic assets such as partnerships, suppliers, and customers Operational assets such as processes, procedures, and systems. Steps To Protect Them

Businesses can take several steps to protect their assets. As mentioned, the most successful business entrepreneurs have taken all the correct steps whilst implementing contingency plans in order to see their assets grow in value whilst staying secure. Some of the key strategies include:

Developing a comprehensive risk management plan: This plan should identify and assess potential risks to the business, such as natural disasters, cyber threats, and employee fraud. 

The plan should also outline strategies for mitigating or responding to these risks.

Implementing security measures: This includes physical security measures, such as locking doors and windows, installing security cameras, and using alarms. It also includes cybersecurity measures, such as implementing firewalls, encrypting data, and regularly updating software and systems.

Conducting background checks on employees: Screening potential employees can help prevent fraud, broker scams and theft by identifying individuals with a history of such behaviour.

Implementing strict financial controls: This includes separating financial duties among different employees, regularly reviewing financial statements, and implementing internal auditing procedures.

Securing sensitive data: This includes protecting customer data, employee information, and any other sensitive information stored by the business. This can be done by encrypting data, limiting access to sensitive information, and training employees on how to handle sensitive data.

Having a robust continuity plan: This covers the activities and operations of an organisation, it will help the organisation to respond and recover in the event of an unexpected disruption of service or operations, it also covers potential threats such as natural disasters, cyber-attacks, pandemics, etc.

Using insurance: Businesses can protect their assets by purchasing insurance policies that cover losses resulting from natural disasters, theft, and other risks.

Regularly reviewing and updating policies and procedures: Businesses should regularly review and update their policies and procedures to ensure they are in line with current regulations and best practices, and to address any new risks that may have emerged.

Final Thoughts 

Overall, protecting a business’s assets requires an extensive and ongoing effort. By identifying potential risks, implementing appropriate security measures, and regularly reviewing and updating policies and procedures, businesses can significantly reduce the risk of loss and protect their assets. If you wish for your business to be within the top 20% of companies that succeed after two years, you should prioritise such measures. 

The post The Most Valuable Tips To Help Protect Your Business Assets appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
Are Binary Options a Risky Investment?

Have you heard of binary options but wondered if they are as risky as everyone says? The truth is that trading in binary options can be very profitable or extremely risky. From the perspective of an experienced trader, the key to making money with binary options is understanding how much risk you’re willing to take and knowing when to cut your losses.

In this article, we’ll explore the risks of investing in binary options and provide some tips for managing those risks so you can make informed decisions about whether or not to invest. Read on to better understand both the opportunities and dangers associated with trading in binary options.

Are Binary Options a Risky Investment?

What are binary options?

Trading binary options can seem intimidating to someone unfamiliar with the process, but it’s an incredibly straightforward concept. A binary option is when someone predicts whether an asset such as a stock, currency pair or commodity will go up or down in price within a certain period – and then bets on the outcome. If they’re right, they can receive excellent returns; however, if their prediction turns out to be wrong, they lose the entire amount.

The great thing about this type of trading is that the uncertainty of future market movements is eliminated – it’s simply a matter of correctly predicting which direction prices are headed and how far they might move. With their low entry costs and short-term nature, binary options have quickly become popular among traders looking for an easy way to diversify their portfolios.

The risks associated with binary options trading

Binary options are attractive to investors because of the potential for significant returns and relatively low risk. However, when trading binary options, there is still a level of risk involved, so it’s essential to understand these risks before getting started. The primary risk associated with binary options trading is that your prediction may be incorrect – and you will lose the amount you invested. The best way to avoid this type of mistake is to become familiar with the markets and develop a trading strategy that works for you.

Another risk associated with binary options is that brokers may not be regulated in your jurisdiction, meaning they could be less likely to honour their end of the deal regarding withdrawals or other issues. To reduce this risk, do your research and only use the best binary options brokers regulated in your region.

There’s the risk of fraud – which is always possible when dealing with online investments. To avoid becoming a victim, thoroughly research any broker before investing and only use legitimate, reputable brokers.

How to minimise the risks of binary options trading

You can take simple steps to minimise the risks of trading binary options. First, it’s important to understand that no investment is without risk – so don’t let anyone try and convince you otherwise. Ensure you educate yourself on the markets and develop a strategy before investing money in binary options trading.

Next, make sure you only use regulated brokers in your jurisdiction. While there’s no way to eliminate the risk of fraud, it’s best to stick with regulated brokers with a proven track record and good customer reviews.

Always ensure you’re trading within your means – never invest more than you can afford to lose. It’s also a good idea to set stop losses so that if the market starts moving against you, you can cut your losses and move on.

The benefits of binary options trading

Binary options trading has many potential benefits, which include ease of use, excellent returns and low entry costs. It is also a great way to diversify your portfolio without taking on too much risk – as long as you are careful when selecting brokers and developing a trading strategy.

For those looking for an easy way to make money, binary options are a great option. With its low entry costs and short-term nature, it offers the potential for significant returns in a relatively short period. Just remember that with any investment, there is always the risk of losing your capital – so make sure you understand the markets and trade responsibly.

It’s important to remember that while binary options trading can be lucrative, it is not a get-rich-quick scheme. As with any investment, risks are involved, and you should invest what you can afford to lose. With some research, planning and discipline, binary options trading can be a great way to supplement your income or even create a full-time job.

Tips for successful binary options trading

For those looking to make money from binary options trading, there are a few essential tips you can follow to increase your chances of success.

First, it’s important to remember that every investment comes with risk – so invest only what you can afford to lose. It would help if you also created a trading plan before investing and set stop-losses to limit potential losses.

It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the markets and develop a trading strategy that works for you. Many successful traders have strategies, so find one that works for you and stick to it. It will help minimise emotional decisions when trading, which can be a surefire way to lose money.

Finally, always use reputable brokers who are regulated in your jurisdiction and have good customer reviews. It will help protect you from becoming a victim of fraud or malpractice.

In a nutshell

Binary options trading is an attractive option for traders because of its potential for large returns and its simplicity. With binary options trading, the trader has the potential to make a large profit in a short amount of time. Additionally, the trading process is straightforward and does not require a high level of technical knowledge or experience.

Binary options trading is a great way for traders to gain exposure to the financial markets without having to invest a large amount of capital. With its potential for large returns and its simplicity, binary options trading is an attractive option for traders of all levels of experience. With the right strategy and the right broker, traders can make a profit. Traders should take the time to develop a sound strategy before trading.

The post Are Binary Options a Risky Investment? appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
How SaaS-based Equipment Management Can Improve Your Business Operations

Modern business operations demand speed and accuracy.

Whether you are an IT company wanting to enhance your management or manage inventory for your business, a SaaS-based solution is key to achieving this. 87% of supply chain and logistics companies presently use the software as a service to smoothen their operations. It’s no surprise why.

However, read on if you’ve been wondering how exactly SaaS helps you gain better insights into your logistics and supply chain department. This article lists five ways a SaaS-based equipment management solution benefits your business. However, before diving into the benefits, let’s understand what equipment management software is.

11 Benefits of Saas Management Platform for Data-Centric Enterprises

What is equipment management software?

Have you ever heard about a tool that monitors and tracks all equipment, schedules its repairs and gives you real-time data when delivering equipment? That tool is equipment management software. The tool offers several features, from showing the inventory’s graphical representation to providing real-time asset updates.

Equipment management software helps businesses in the following ways: 

It addresses issues almost immediately Keep a tab on all equipment activity Link small equipment to the vehicles that travel every day Bid farewell to spreadsheets and paperwork Enables team collaboration

Now that we know what equipment management software is, let’s look at how it can improve your business operations.

Daily deliveries become easy

Technology will accelerate the logistics and supply chain industries as the clients’ and consumers’ needs keep changing. SaaS platforms will essentially help businesses be more accountable and adaptable in the long run. The easiest way SaaS brings this change is by reducing the hassle in daily deliveries.

For instance, consumers today need instant gratification which puts supply chains under pressure. So if you want to enhance deliveries, there’s a seemingly increasing need for adaptable SaaS solutions. Doing so will help businesses prioritize customer expectations, ever-growing demands for omnichannel distribution and sales and simplify the increasing complexity in the global supply chain.

Minimized operational discrepancies

Enhancing accuracy for any business operations can be done in two ways: increase or better the resources or minimize the discrepancies occurring with existing assets. Businesses that utilize the power of data analytics to make more data-driven decisions are more likely to succeed.

SaaS helps businesses with predictive analytics that can be applied to real-time data and enhance inventory management. With the help of automation, supply chain operations no longer need to use manual procedures or unnecessary paperwork. This digital transformation largely impacts the business’ overall cost and profitability.

The Machine Learning (ML) and Internet of Things (IoT) benefit

IoT has enabled smartphone-based and GPS-enabled applications and sensors on vehicles. This is proving to be head-turning in the logistics and supply chain department. Every software and smart gadget used in the global supply chain is a data source. Businesses use these data sources to gather insights and optimize the necessary operations in the supply chain.

The Machine Learning (ML) and Internet of Things (IoT) benefit 

Machine learning is also in demand. Since the global supply chain requirements get more complicated, the margin of error automatically increases. ML provides businesses with several advantages like learning addresses and cleaning them at each delivery to reduce the delivery time. With ML and IoT, businesses can optimize operations, reduce costs and increase productivity.

Makes equipment management mobile

Any task managed mobile is managed easy. 

SaaS-based systems are ideal as they offer services via a mobile phone. This makes it easy for the managers and end users to be updated with the information on time. For instance, if a vehicle undergoes a malfunction on-site and needs immediate repair, the employee on the site could easily notify the vendor about the incident.

The repair could then be scheduled through the maintenance management app. This ensures your assets undergo the least possible damage and they’re back to functioning properly in minimal time.

Through the app, sending multiple repair requests is also possible. This saves time, speeds up the process, and reduces paperwork needed all at once. By saving time, you can enhance customer experience and reallocate crucial business resources to other areas.

Maintain recurring schedules easily

Enhanced collaboration is a positive byproduct of using SaaS-based solutions. It ensures you don’t miss out on the needed maintenance by scheduling recurring maintenance. For instance, you can set recurring repairs of certain assets while also defining the start and end dates of the schedule. Moreover, your asset could be sent automatically for maintenance through the software.

Ease in maintaining recurring schedules also enables you to keep detailed service records. This data can help you make more informed decisions in the future. For example, through the records, you know that asset X takes more time and frequent repairs. With this bit of information, you can work toward minimizing the time and increasing the efficiency of your IT operations.

These records can also highlight bigger problems in asset management or notify smaller issues that could turn big in the future if left unaddressed.

Makes business sustainable

Saving the planet is, after all, the ulterior motive for any business. Along with offering digitalization, businesses need to plan for sustainability to thrive in the long run. By using cloud solutions, this purpose is achieved. Your resources will dramatically reduce, and resource savings will increase. At the same time, the usage of paper has become very rare.

Since organizations don’t need to invest much in setting up complex IT infrastructure, much energy is consumed. All of this combined overall leads to a reduction in greenhouse gas levels and their adverse environmental effects.

Overall Enhanced Inventory management

Supply chain management is a crucial part of all business operations. A simple delay in finding a spare part of an asset can cost you a consumer. Plus, it could be extremely frustrating and time-consuming as well. A Saas-based solution can help you better manage the inventory in the following ways:

It lets you set maximum or minimum inventory stock thresholds. Track inventory using QR codes, barcodes and other identifiers. Lets you maintain vendor details to track the supplier. Enforces role-based access to maintain security and confidentiality You receive notifications when inventory levels go low

Depending on your business needs, you can choose a SaaS solution that expedites the maintenance process and ensures you have enough inventory levels. Moreover, all concerned members get updates about asset repairs and maintenance, which fosters transparency among internal members of the organization.

Choose the right tool to get the benefits

While the article enlists the benefits of using a SaaS-based solution for supply chain management, choosing the right tool still lies with you. You need to be certain of your business requirements and the current challenges your business faces in supply chain management.

For instance, some assets in your company may need frequent repairs, and you may need to know why. In this specific case, you need to look for a SaaS tool that notifies you as and when an asset demands a repair. This will help you know the frequency of repairs needed and the potential reasons for it.

The post How SaaS-based Equipment Management Can Improve Your Business Operations appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
How To Begin Investing For The Financial Future

The process of allocating resources for long-term financial stability can be intimidating, particularly for individuals who are unfamiliar with the intricacies of investing. However, with a modicum of knowledge and the implementation of astute tactics, anyone can initiate the formation of a robust investment portfolio. To aid in this endeavor, the following are some suggestions for consideration.

How To Begin Investing For The Financial Future

Understanding the Fundamentals of Investing

Before embarking on the journey of investing, it is crucial to gain a thorough understanding of the underlying concepts and principles. This includes familiarizing oneself with the various types of investments available, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and real estate, and the respective risks and potential returns associated with each. The process of educating oneself about different types of investments can be achieved through reading books, and articles, or attending classes or workshops.

Furthermore, it is important to understand the different risks associated with different types of investments, such as stocks and bonds, and how to evaluate them. Furthermore, becoming proficient in concepts such as diversification, compounding, and asset allocation is essential for making informed investment decisions.

Establishing Specific Financial Objectives

Once a robust foundation in the fundamentals of investing has been established, the next step is to set well-defined and specific financial goals. This may include saving for a down payment on a home, funding a child’s education, or planning for retirement. By having clear and specific financial objectives, it becomes easier to make informed investment decisions and track progress over time.

Furthermore, setting specific financial goals can be helpful in the development of a personalized investment strategy that aligns with one’s unique financial needs and aspirations. Additionally, having specific financial goals can also help individuals to stay motivated and stay on track with their investment plan, even during challenging times. This can also aid in creating a sense of accountability and make it more likely to achieve the set financial objectives.

Financial Planning and Budgeting

Before undertaking any investment endeavors, it is essential to have a comprehensive understanding of one’s financial situation. This includes formulating a budget, discharging high-interest debt, and establishing an emergency fund. By gaining control over one’s finances, it becomes possible to take on the risks associated with investing with a greater degree of assurance and security.

Budgeting and financial planning can also help in identifying potential areas for cost savings, which can then be redirected toward investment activities. Furthermore, budgeting and financial planning can help individuals to prioritize their financial goals, aligning them with their current financial situation, and creating a clear path toward achieving them. This can also aid in creating a long-term financial plan that takes into account both short and long-term investment goals.

Using Pay Stub Generator

In addition to budgeting and financial planning, utilizing a pay stub generator can be a valuable asset in monitoring one’s income and expenses. A pay stub generator allows for the creation of comprehensive pay stubs that include information such as gross and net pay, taxes, and deductions. This can be a useful tool when it comes to budgeting and saving for one’s financial goals. Furthermore, using the best pay stub generator ensures that the pay stubs generated are accurate and reliable, providing a clear and detailed picture of one’s financial situation.

Investment Education and Knowledge

Education is a critical aspect when it comes to investing. There are a plethora of resources available to assist in gaining knowledge about different investment options and strategies. Some ways to educate oneself include reading books and articles on the subject, attending classes or workshops, or consulting with financial experts or professionals. By taking the time to educate oneself about investment options and strategies, individuals can make informed decisions, increase their chances of success in the investment market, and ultimately achieve their financial goals.

In addition, it is important to continue learning and updating one’s knowledge, as the investment market is constantly changing and evolving. This can help in keeping up with the latest trends and strategies in the market and making better investment decisions. It is also crucial to seek professional advice when needed, to ensure that the investment strategy aligns with one’s financial goals and risk tolerance.

Diversification and Starting Small

When first starting to invest, it is crucial, to begin with small investments and diversify one’s portfolio. This means investing in a variety of different assets, such as stocks, bonds, real estate, and alternative investments. Diversifying one’s portfolio helps to spread out risk and increase the potential for earning a return on investment. Additionally, starting small allows individuals to gain experience and knowledge, while also minimizing the potential for financial loss. As one’s investment experience and knowledge grow, the portfolio can be gradually expanded and diversified. It is important to note that diversification does not guarantee a profit or protect against the loss, but it can help in reducing the overall risk in the portfolio. Moreover, starting small allows individuals to learn and understand the investment process and develop their investment strategy. This can also help in avoiding impulsive decisions and sticking to the long-term financial plan.

It is also important to monitor one’s portfolio regularly and make adjustments as needed. This includes reallocating assets based on changes in one’s financial situation and investment goals, as well as monitoring the performance of individual investments and making necessary adjustments to the portfolio. Regular monitoring and adjustments can help in maintaining a well-diversified portfolio and aligning it with one’s financial goals.

Utilizing Technology for Investment Management

Technology plays a vital role in the world of investing, with various tools and resources available to aid in the management and monitoring of investments. One such tool is the use of mobile applications to track one’s portfolio, which can provide real-time updates and insights on the performance of investments. Another option is utilizing a Robo-adviser, which can assist in the decision-making process by providing automated investment recommendations based on an individual’s risk tolerance and financial goals. Furthermore, education technology can also be leveraged to stay informed about the latest investment strategies and trends, providing individuals with the knowledge and tools necessary to make informed investment decisions.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, investing for long-term financial stability can be a complex undertaking, but with the appropriate knowledge and strategies, anyone can achieve it. By setting specific financial goals, gaining a clear understanding of one’s finances, and utilizing tools and technologies for investment management, individuals can take the necessary steps to construct a robust investment portfolio.

The post How To Begin Investing For The Financial Future appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
Improving Financial Inclusion in General

Financial inclusion is the concept of providing banking services to every resident of a country. It is about making sure that people have easy access to financial services so they can start, run and grow their businesses, take risks with investing money or use it for basic things like buying school uniforms or having medical care when needed. Access to finance has become a key driver for economic growth. Poor people are often the most vulnerable in any economy, and this is especially true in low-income and emerging markets where banks are rare and savings accounts rarely available to most people. Financial inclusion helps lift everyone out of poverty by giving them greater access to capital and credit.

Improving Financial Inclusion in General

These steps can help you increase financial inclusion in your organization through programs that target underserved groups or support new entrepreneurs.

Steps to increase financial inclusion in your organization 1. Set achievable goals and measure your progress regularly

The way you measure progress will vary depending on your strategy and goals. But, whatever they are, it is crucial to set specific targets. When it comes to increasing financial inclusion, a key question is “how many people do we reach?” If your aim is to have one million more individuals with bank accounts by the end of the year, then you have to know how many individuals you currently have. Setting specific targets also lets you know if you are on track. It can be frustrating when you have a lot of people who want to use banking services, but they are hard to reach. If you don’t set targets, you won’t know if you are making progress.

2. Stop thinking of financial services as a one-time donation

Too often, people are introduced to financial services as a one-time donation. This is an important first step, but it does not address the underlying issues that lead many people to be financially excluded in the first place. Instead of thinking of financial services as a one-time donation, think of them as a regular service that is offered once a week, once a month, or once a year. If you offer financial services in a limited way, like providing loans to businesses or people with assets such as livestock, you can make it easier for people to access the services they need. Why it matters: Financial Inclusion is an ongoing process that lasts a lifetime. It doesn’t end when someone receives a bank account or takes out a loan with auto loan software. It also includes building the financial skills of people so they can make informed decisions for themselves and their families. Leaving financial services as a one-time donation means that people need to start the process all over again.

3. Ditch the digital divide by integrating technology into the services you offer

Financial services need to be available to everyone, regardless of their location or access to technology. However, in many low-income and rural communities, there may be significant barriers to accessing technology, including limited access to electricity, unreliable phone signals, and high costs of internet access. Fortunately, many low-cost technologies can be used to provide financial services such as pay stub generator or Mobile banking, for example, allowing people to access their accounts and send money via mobile phone. This can be especially helpful for people who don’t have a traditional bank branch nearby, but still, have access to a mobile phone network.

4. Find ways to build financial skills among young people

Young people are often seen as a key demographic for financial inclusion efforts, but many are not as financially savvy or sophisticated as older generations. This can often be attributed to a lack of financial education during childhood. Young people can also be at a significant disadvantage if they don’t have access to a computer or internet connection at home. Without technology, they may be less likely to learn about money and start earning it. There are several ways that government agencies and organizations can encourage financial inclusion through youth-friendly programs. One way is to encourage young people to become financially literate. This could include encouraging them to read financial books or blogs, participate in financial education classes or receive financial counseling.

5. Be sure everyone has a voice in the conversation about how money is used

Anyone who wants to use a financial service needs to have a way of accessing that service. This means that you need to be inclusive with your offerings, find ways to reach underserved populations, and build financial services that are available to everyone. There are several ways that you can be more inclusive. One way is to look at your organization’s offerings and ask yourself if anyone who isn’t part of the traditional target audience is likely to be excluded. Why it matters: Financial inclusion is about empowering people through access to financial services. If you’re providing these services only to certain people, then you’re not providing these services to everyone.

Bottom line

Effective financial inclusion strategies build long-term change. They require a long-term focus, a clear vision of where you want to be, and the commitment to make it happen. They also require a long-term investment in people and the environment. These are all needed to build sustainable financial inclusion. The good news is that financial inclusion does not require a large financial outlay or complex changes to your organization’s structure. In many cases, it just requires a shift in mindset among those working in your organization. All of these steps help you think about financial inclusion in a new way. They also help you think about financial inclusion as more than just new services. They help you think about financial inclusion as a way to build a stronger, more sustainable organization.

The post Improving Financial Inclusion in General appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Wamanboult
How to Use AI in Business to Stay Ahead of the Curve

The business world is evolving rapidly and staying ahead of the curve is essential for success. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the most powerful tools available for all industries, from the automotive industry to Healthcare and even marketing to take advantage of today. With AI, businesses can automate processes, analyze customer data more accurately, and identify opportunities for growth more quickly. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the various ways that AI can be used in business and provide actionable tips to help you stay ahead of the competition.

How to Use AI in Business to Stay Ahead of the Curve

What is AI?

AI, or Artificial Intelligence, is the concept of machines being able to perform tasks and make decisions that would normally require human intelligence. AI is used in a wide range of industries and applications, from healthcare to marketing. It involves the use of algorithms and computer programs to analyze data and make predictions. AI has become increasingly popular in recent years due to advances in technology and increased access to data.

At its core, AI is all about using computers to solve problems that are difficult for humans to solve. This means it can be used to automate tasks, identify patterns in data, and even provide insights into customer behaviors. AI can also be used to optimize processes, identify opportunities for improvement, and enhance customer experiences. With AI, businesses are able to stay ahead of the curve and make smarter decisions. For example, if a business needs to predict market trends or anticipate customer demands, they can use AI to analyze historical data quickly and accurately. AI also allows businesses to detect anomalies or unusual behavior and take corrective measures before costly losses occur. Furthermore, AI provides real-time analytics so businesses can track performance indicators, such as sales volumes, customer satisfaction scores, and other metrics. Finally, businesses can leverage AI to develop customized products and services based on customer needs and preferences.

What are some common applications of AI in business?

AI has become an increasingly important tool for businesses of all sizes in recent years, offering the potential to automate mundane tasks, increase efficiency, and improve customer experience. AI is being used in a variety of applications, from customer service to marketing and more. Here are some of the most common uses of AI in business:

Automation: Automation is one of the most popular uses of AI in business, as it can help streamline mundane and repetitive tasks. Businesses can use AI to automate processes such as data entry, customer service inquiries, order processing, accounting, and inventory management. Data Analysis: AI-powered technology can be used to make sense of large amounts of data quickly and accurately. Businesses can use AI-based technologies such as machine learning to analyze customer behavior and identify trends, which can then be used to improve the customer experience. Predictive Analytics: AI can also be used to predict future trends and patterns in customer behavior. Using predictive analytics, businesses can anticipate customer needs and develop strategies to optimize their marketing campaigns, product offerings, and services. Technology Database: AI can be used to store and access large amounts of data quickly and securely. Companies can use an AI-powered technology database to store customer information, sales records, product data, and more, allowing them to access this information whenever needed. What are some benefits of using AI in business?

AI technology offers businesses a number of benefits that can help them stay competitive in the modern economy. One of the major advantages of using AI is its ability to automate mundane tasks, freeing up employees to focus on more strategic tasks. AI can also enable companies to generate higher-quality insights faster than ever before. For example, AI-driven analytics can quickly and accurately analyze huge data sets to detect patterns, trends, and opportunities that may otherwise have gone unnoticed. AI can also reduce costs associated with certain tasks, such as marketing campaigns, customer service, and product development. AI can also help increase customer satisfaction by providing more personalized services and experiences. Additionally, AI can be used to help predict customer behavior and suggest customized products or services to match their needs. All of these benefits provide businesses with the opportunity to remain ahead of the competition and thrive in an increasingly digital world. To maximize the effectiveness of AI in business, it’s important to understand how AI works and how it can best be utilized. Companies should consider developing an AI strategy that encompasses all aspects of their operations, from product design to customer experience optimization. Doing so will ensure they are able to properly leverage this powerful technology and capitalize on the potential it provides. Additionally, companies should look into hiring qualified AI professionals who understand both the technical and business aspects of the technology and can develop effective solutions for specific needs. Lastly, companies should ensure they are constantly looking at new applications of AI within their operations to ensure they are not left behind by the competition. By taking advantage of all of the possibilities offered by AI, businesses will be able to remain ahead of the curve for years to come.

5 AI and Machine Learning Tips for Small Businesses to Achieve Greater Heights

What are some challenges of using AI in business?

Using AI in business can be a challenging process due to the complexity of the technology and its implementation. One of the biggest challenges of using AI in business is getting the right data and data sets. As AI algorithms need large datasets to learn patterns and make decisions, businesses must ensure they have access to reliable and comprehensive datasets to get the most out of their AI-based projects.

Another challenge with AI is that it can be difficult to explain why a certain decision was made by the algorithm. This lack of explanation ability means that businesses are not able to accurately gauge whether or not their AI-based projects are working as intended, or if there are potential biases in the algorithms. This lack of transparency can create issues for businesses that may be relying on AI-based decision-making for critical processes.

Also, using AI in business requires significant investments in both time and resources. From researching and developing the necessary technology to creating an effective AI strategy and training teams, businesses must put in a lot of effort and resources to get the most out of their AI projects. Additionally, as AI technology is constantly evolving, businesses must remain up-to-date with the latest developments in order to stay ahead of the competition. To do this, companies should look into investing in research and development (R&D) programs that focus on staying abreast of cutting-edge advancements. Companies should also consider partnering with AI experts who can help them better understand the complexities of this ever-evolving field.

Furthermore, businesses should also keep track of trends related to AI adoption in their industry. By monitoring the industry’s uptake of new technologies, companies can understand how competitors might be leveraging AI solutions and adjust accordingly. Moreover, businesses should also consider ways to automate their operations using AI solutions, so they don’t fall behind competitors taking advantage of automation technologies.

Finally, companies should also look into developing ethical guidelines when it comes to implementing and utilizing AI technologies. While AI offers immense potential for businesses, companies should strive to adhere to ethical principles to ensure fairness and accuracy when deploying AI solutions.

Also read: 5 AI and Machine Learning Tips for Small Businesses to Achieve Greater Heights

How can businesses stay ahead of the curve when it comes to AI?

To stay ahead of the curve when it comes to AI, businesses must understand the technology, keep up with advancements in the field, and invest in the right solutions for their organization.

First and foremost, businesses should have a basic understanding of what AI is and how it can be used. By educating themselves on the various types of AI and what AI can do, businesses can better understand where and how to apply it in their own operations.

Businesses should also stay informed about the latest advancements in AI. Technology is constantly evolving, so businesses need to make sure they are aware of the new trends and capabilities in order to stay ahead of their competitors. For example, if a competitor begins using facial recognition technology, businesses should research and understand how they can implement the same technology in their own operations.

In addition, businesses need to invest in the right AI solutions for their organization. AI is not a one-size-fits-all technology – there are different types of AI solutions that businesses need to consider based on their particular needs. For instance, some businesses may benefit more from natural language processing (NLP) while others may find more success with machine learning (ML). By investing in the right type of AI solution for their organization, businesses can stay ahead of their competitors and make the most out of their investments.

Finally, businesses should partner with experienced AI consultants or developers who can provide guidance and advice on the best AI solutions for their business. By leveraging the expertise of experienced professionals, businesses can ensure that they are making well-informed decisions when it comes to investing in AI.

By understanding AI technology, keeping up with advancements, investing in the right solutions for their business, and partnering with experienced professionals, businesses can stay ahead of the curve when it comes to using AI in their operations.

Conclusion

AI is quickly becoming an essential part of modern businesses, and it is clear that those who embrace the technology are more likely to stay ahead of the curve. By understanding the common applications and benefits of AI, businesses can use this technology to gain an advantage over their competitors. However, AI also comes with some challenges, and businesses must be aware of these risks in order to maximize their returns on investment. By staying informed and investing in the right AI solutions, businesses can keep up with the rapid pace of technological change and ensure they remain competitive in the future.

The post How to Use AI in Business to Stay Ahead of the Curve appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
How to Easily Avoid Downtime in Manufacturing With Downtime Management?

Downtime is the bane of any manufacturing owner’s existence. When your production lines are down, your customers can’t access your products or services, and your productivity takes a hit. But downtime doesn’t have to be a death sentence for your manufacturing. With some preparation, you can keep your lines up and running even in a major outage! In this post, we share some tips on how you can easily avoid downtime in manufacturing with downtime management.

How to Easily Avoid Downtime in Manufacturing With Downtime Management?

Schedule Regular Maintenance and Updates

Downtime is a nightmare for every manufacturer. Not only does it cost you money in lost productivity, but it can also damage your reputation if your customers can’t access your product. One of the best ways to avoid downtime is to schedule regular production line maintenance.

You can prevent any potential outages or failures by keeping your systems up-to-date. Schedule these updates during some working pauses, so your productivity isn’t affected.

How Often Should You Schedule Maintenance and Updates?

That depends on your production line. For example, if you have a mission-critical system that needs to be up and running 24/7, you’ll want to schedule more frequent updates. On the other hand, if you have a line that can tolerate some downtime, you can schedule less frequent updates.

However, as a general rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to schedule at least monthly maintenance. This is to ensure that your lines are always running at peak efficiency.

Another vital thing to keep in mind is that not all manufacturing maintenance and updates need to be done at the same time. It’s often better to spread them over time to minimize potential disruptions.

For example, you could schedule an update for the first week of the month, maintenance for the second week, another update for the third week, and so on. This staggered approach will help keep your production lines running smoothly while allowing you to take advantage of the latest security patches and features.

There are several benefits to staggering maintenance and updates:

It Minimizes Disruptions: By spreading out maintenance and updates over time, you can minimize the disruptions to your production line. Rather than taking your lines offline for a day or two at a time, you can schedule updates for slow times or overnight so that there is minimal impact on your production operations. It Keeps Your Lines Running Smoothly: You can avoid security breaches and performance issues by keeping your lines updated. By spreading out the updates over time, you can ensure that there is always a minimum level of functionality while still taking advantage of the latest security patches and features. It Improves Efficiency: When everything is scheduled in advance, your IT staff can plan their work better and be more efficient with their time. This also allows them to schedule their work around other projects to be more effective overall. It Reduces Stress: When maintenance and updates are staggered, it takes some pressure off your IT staff. Rather than cram everything into a short window, they can spread the work over a more extended period, which can help reduce stress levels. It Saves Money: In many cases, it costs less to stagger manufacturing maintenance and updates because you can take advantage of discounts or bulk pricing when buying software updates. Additionally, by minimizing the disruptions to your manufacturing, you can avoid the cost of lost productivity. Create Comprehensive Backup Plans

If something goes wrong, it’s essential to have a backup plan in manufacturing. With a well-thought-out backup plan, you can quickly get your lines up and running again without any losses.

To create a foolproof plan, you must consider digital and physical backups of all your critical data. By taking the time to prepare now, you’ll be grateful later on when disaster strikes.

Digital Backups

In today’s digital age, it’s more important than ever to have secure, remote backups of all your data. You won’t lose everything if you have any crashes. There are two main types of digital backups: local and cloud-based.

Local backups are stored on an external device in a safe location. Cloud-based backups are stored on servers run by companies like Microsoft or Amazon. These servers are located worldwide and are much less likely to be destroyed in a localized disaster.

Both local and cloud-based backups have pros and cons, so weighing your options before choosing one (or both) for your manufacturing is essential. Whichever route you choose, make sure you regularly test your backups to ensure they’re working correctly—you don’t want to find out the hard way that your backup plan failed when you needed it most.

Physical Backups

In addition to digital backups, it’s also essential to have physical copies of important documents in case of a disaster. Store these documents in a waterproof and fireproof safe so they’ll be protected in an emergency.

Test Your Systems Regularly

Imagine this scenario: it’s the middle of a workday, and your production line stops for unknown reasons during the working process. This is just one example of how a downtime in manufacturing can quickly ruin your productivity.

Luckily, there’s a way to avoid these frustrations: by regularly monitoring for potential issues and using machine downtime tracking systems so you can fix issues causing unplanned downtime before it causes a major stoppage of your production line.

Why Test Your Lines?

There are several reasons why it’s essential to test your lines regularly:

To Ensure Optimal Performance: By identifying any potential issues early on, you can fix them before they cause your lines to run slower or crash altogether. This way, you can keep your production lines running at peak efficiency. To Avoid Customer Frustration: If your production lines are down, your customers will be unable to do business with you successfully. This can lead to frustration and, ultimately, loss of business. By testing your systems regularly, you can avoid these negative customer experiences. To Save Money: Downtime in manufacturing is not only frustrating, but it’s also expensive. You can save your money in the long run by avoiding downtime. How to Test Your Systems Effectively?

System testing should be done regularly and during planned manufacturing pauses. Here are a few tips for effective system testing:

Identify All Major Components of Your System: This includes carts, conveyor belts, totes & bins, safety equipment etc. Create Detailed Test Cases for Each Component: These test cases should cover everything from functional testing to stress testing. Run Tests Frequently and Consistently: Depending on the size and complexity of your production, you may need to run tests daily, weekly, or monthly. Keep a Record of All Test Results: This will help you track potential issues and identify areas for improvement over time. Conclusion

Downtime is inevitable for any manufacturing, but it doesn’t have to be a death sentence. By following a few simple steps—scheduling regular maintenance and updates, creating comprehensive backup plans, and testing your production lines regularly—you can keep your manufacturing process up and running even in a major outage!

The post How to Easily Avoid Downtime in Manufacturing With Downtime Management? appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
Networking For Entrepreneurs – How to Make Connections That Matter

How to make connections that matter describes ways to maximize your networking efforts, such as developing core skills and staying up-to-date with the latest technology. In this article, we’ll delve into networking for entrepreneurs and how to make connections that truly matter. You’ll also learn how to find new opportunities and leverage storytelling to amplify your networking efforts.

Networking For Entrepreneurs - How to Make Connections That Matter

Stay on the cutting edge of technology

If you are a business owner or entrepreneur like Bart Fanelli, you should always stay on the cutting edge of technology. The best way to do this is to join industry associations. These organizations work hard to keep members informed on the latest trends. They also offer financing options for purchasing cutting-edge technology. There are many different types of technologies you can choose from. For example, there are wearable devices like fitness trackers and smartwatches. You can use these devices to track your activity, sleep, and heart rate. Additionally, there are collaboration tools such as instant messaging apps and online project management platforms. This new technology can help you stay connected with your employees, clients, and other business partners.

Find new opportunities

Networking for entrepreneurs can be a great way to find new opportunities and grow your business. Whether you are looking to expand your business into a new market or looking for the right product to sell, there are many ways to find new opportunities.

One of the best ways to network for entrepreneurs is through entrepreneurial organizations. These groups are designed to unite like-minded individuals for networking, mentoring, and exposure. It is also great for finding advice and learning about your industry. Another way to network is through social media. This can help you reach potential customers and get referrals. You can also use a company’s social media page to promote your business.

Build your knowledge base

Building a knowledge base is a critical aspect of successful entrepreneurship. It will not only open doors to essential opportunities but also allow you to build relationships that will help you succeed. This can be done through networking. Finding opportunities that fit your business niche is essential when you start networking. For example, consider attending local jewelry industry events if you are selling jewelry. These can help you build connections and learn about new technologies. They can also give you the inspiration you need to develop your business. Networking is an excellent way to connect and introduce yourself to potential buyers, partners, and investors. If you meet someone who specializes in a product or service you sell, you can ask for their recommendation. You can work with the supplier or distributor at a lower cost than their competition.

Improve your core skills

If you are an entrepreneur or want to be one, consider the core skills necessary to succeed. These are skills that must be developed and adapted to changing business environments. Some entrepreneurs naturally have these skills, while others must be cultivated. Regardless of your skill set, you can learn the essential techniques for improving your networking skills. With a bit of practice, you can increase your success and the number of clients you can find. In addition, you can also build a more vital communication and public speaking capacity. One of the most under-appreciated networking skills is listening. This is important for building trust, and it also validates the value that other people have. It would be best not to focus on talking too much since that is considered rude. Instead, you should pay attention to the other person’s answers and ask thoughtful questions to show that you care.

Leverage storytelling to amplify your networking efforts

If you want to boost your networking efforts, storytelling might be your tool. You can make a name for yourself, expand your network and increase your chances of getting that dream job. There are some tips and tricks to leveraging storytelling to your advantage. One of the best uses of storytelling is to establish trust with others quickly. The easiest way to do this is to tell a story. For instance, share a recent experience or event that you attended. This can be a memorable event that will have a lasting effect on the people involved. By sharing the event, you will be able to build your reputation while at the same time establishing trust in your network. Another way to leverage storytelling to your advantage is to combine it with data to create an engaging experience. For example, combining a data point with a well-constructed story can increase the likelihood of conversions.

The post Networking For Entrepreneurs – How to Make Connections That Matter appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike

The transportation and logistics sector is built on the idea of efficiency. Delivering shipments when they’re expected or earlier is how companies in this industry earn business and strengthen their reputations among customers. If your company wants to succeed, you need to be doing everything you can to make sure your fleet is as efficient as possible. One of the best ways to do this is to invest in a comprehensive telematics system for your vehicles.

These systems consist of devices connected to the Internet that are installed on trucks, vans and trailers. They relay information continuously back to a central server, enabling users to keep track of where each individual shipment is at all times. On top of this, the data collected by this technology also includes granular details about idle times, speed and even driving behavior.

How Telematics Benefits You

It’s not hard to see the benefit of having all this information at your fingertips if you’re concerned about efficiency. Knowing where your fleet is at any given moment enables you to provide customers with an up-to-the-minute ETA so they can adjust their plans accordingly and streamline their operations. Drivers will be able to spot slowdowns or congestion issues in advance and alter their routes to accommodate while also keeping the central office updated.

Telematics also helps by allowing you to identify inefficient or unsafe driving tendencies for each driver. Any wasteful actions can be spotted and called out before they have a chance to cause any further delays in deliveries. Being able to track vehicles also means there’s a reduced risk of losses due to theft by making recovery of stolen goods much easier.

This technology can be a game-changer for companies within the transportation and logistics space. To learn more about what telematics can do for you and your business, take a look at the accompanying resource.

Infographic created by Track Your Truck, a GPS vehicle tracking devices provider

The post How Can Telematics Data Improve Freight Transportation? appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
What Are the Best Strategies for Finding Investment Opportunities?

Investing can be a great way to build wealth and provide financial security for you and your family. With the right strategies and tools, you can find and make the most of investment opportunities. In this blog article, we’ll cover the basics of investment opportunities and the strategies and tools that can help you make the most of them.

Common Traits of Entrepreneurship, seed investment funding options for Africans, Principles Of Financial Prosperity

Introduction to Investment Opportunities

An investment opportunity is any opportunity that offers the potential for a return on your investment. It can be anything from stocks and bonds to real estate or a business venture. Investing can be a great way to build wealth and provide financial security for you and your family. The key to successful investing is to have a plan and to do your research before jumping in.

What Are Investment Opportunities?

Investment opportunities come in many shapes and sizes. Some of the most common types of investment opportunities are stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, and certain businesses. Each one offers its own unique set of risks and rewards, so it’s important to do your research and understand what you’re getting into before investing.

Stocks are an ownership stake in a publicly-traded company. When you buy stocks, you’re buying a share of the company and you become a partial owner. If the company does well, the value of your stocks will increase, which can result in a return on your investment.

Bonds are a type of loan. When you buy a bond, you are lending money to a company or government in exchange for a set interest rate. The interest rate will determine how much you will receive in return for your investment.

Mutual funds are a type of pooled investment. When you invest in a mutual fund, your money will be combined with other investors’ money and invested in a variety of stocks, bonds, and other assets.

Real estate investments can be a great way to generate passive income. When you purchase an income-producing property, you can rent it out and receive a steady stream of income.

Businesses can also be a great investment opportunity. If you have the skills and resources, you can start your own business or purchase an existing one. The potential return on your investment can be quite high, but it does come with a greater level of risk.

Types of Investment Opportunities

The types of investment opportunities available to you will depend on your financial situation, goals, and risk tolerance. Some of the most common types of investments include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, and businesses.

Stocks can offer the potential for a high return on your investment, but they come with a higher level of risk. Bonds are a safer option, but they generally provide a lower return. Mutual funds can provide diversification and lower risk, but they may also have higher fees.

Real estate investments can provide a steady stream of income, but they require a significant amount of capital and may involve higher risks. Businesses can also be great investment opportunities, but they come with the risk of failure.

Setting Investment Goals

Before you begin investing, it’s important to set goals for yourself. Think about what you want to achieve with your investments. Are you looking for short-term gains, long-term wealth building, or something else? Knowing your goals will help you choose the right investment opportunities. Once you have established your goals, you can then determine the appropriate investment vehicles and strategies to help you reach them, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or real estate. It’s important to regularly review and adjust your investment goals as your financial situation and needs change over time.

It’s also important to understand your risk tolerance. Some investments are riskier than others, so it’s important to understand how much risk you’re comfortable taking on. Understanding your risk tolerance will help you choose investments that are right for you.

Strategies for Finding Investment Opportunities

What Are the Best Strategies for Finding Investment Opportunities?

Finding the right investment opportunities can be a challenge, but there are a few strategies that can help.

The first step is to do your research. You should understand what types of investments are available and how they work. It’s also important to know the potential risks and rewards associated with each type of investment.

You should also keep an eye on the markets. Pay attention to news, trends, and other developments that could affect the performance of certain investments.

Another useful strategy is to diversify your investments. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Investing in a variety of stocks, bonds, and other assets can help protect your investment from market volatility.

Analyzing Investment Opportunities

Once you’ve identified an investment opportunity, it’s important to analyze it carefully. Take the time to understand the risks and rewards associated with the investment. You should also consider how the investment fits into your overall financial plan.

It’s important to consider several factors such as the company’s financials, management team, industry trends, and potential risks. Additionally, it’s important to understand the investment’s potential return and how it fits into your overall investment portfolio. This can include evaluating the company’s revenue and earnings growth, as well as considering its debt and cash position. It’s also important to research and compare the investment opportunity to others in the same industry or market. Finally, it’s important to have a well-defined investment strategy and to diversify your portfolio by investing in a mix of assets to spread risk.

Using Financial Analysis Tools

In addition to research and analysis, there are a number of financial analysis tools available to help you evaluate investment opportunities. These tools can help you compare different investments, assess risk, and make informed decisions.

One of the most popular tools is financial statement analysis. This tool allows you to analyze a company’s financial statements to determine its health and performance. Scenario Analysis is a tool that can be used to evaluate the potential outcomes of investment under different scenarios, such as changes in the economy or industry conditions. Online stock screening is a tool that helps filter stocks based on different financial metrics such as P/E ratio, market cap, debt-equity ratio, etc.

Other popular tools include portfolio analysis, which can help you evaluate the performance of your investments over time, and risk analysis, which can help you identify the risks associated with a particular investment. It is also essential to have a good understanding of these tools and the underlying data before using them to make investment decisions.

The Benefits of Investing

Investing can be a great way to build wealth and provide financial security for you and your family. Investing can help protect against inflation by providing returns that may outpace the rate of inflation. Investing in companies and funds that align with your values, such as those focused on sustainability or social impact, can allow you to make a positive impact on the world through your investment choices. Investing can help you build long-term wealth, generate passive income, and achieve your financial goals.

The potential rewards of investing can be quite significant, but it’s important to remember that there are risks involved. Before investing, it’s important to understand the risks and rewards associated with each type of investment.

The Risks of Investing

Investing involves some degree of risk, so it’s important to understand and manage these risks. The most common risks associated with investing include market volatility, interest rate risk, inflation risk, currency risk, and liquidity risk.

Market volatility refers to the changes in the price of an asset over time. Interest rate risk refers to the risk of changes in interest rates affecting the value of an investment. Inflation risk refers to the risk that the purchasing power of an investment will decrease over time. Currency risk refers to the risk that will affect the value of your investment. Liquidity risk refers to the risk that an asset may not be easily converted to cash.

It’s important to understand and manage these risks when investing. Diversifying your investments and investing in a mix of assets can help to spread risk and manage potential losses.

Conclusion

Investment opportunities can be a great way to build wealth and provide financial security for you and your family. With the right strategies and tools, you can find and make the most of investment opportunities.

Start by doing your research and setting investment goals that align with your financial situation and risk tolerance. Keep an eye on the markets and diversify your investments to minimize risk. Analyze investment opportunities carefully and use financial analysis tools to help you make informed decisions.

Remember, there are risks associated with investing, so it’s important to understand and manage these risks. With the right strategies and tools, you can find and make the most of investment opportunities.

Investing can be a great way to build wealth and provide financial security for you and your family. If you’re ready to start investing, use the strategies and tools discussed in this blog article to find the right investment opportunities for you.

The post What Are the Best Strategies for Finding Investment Opportunities? appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Karla Hogan
A Brief Branding Guide For Startups In 2023

A branding guide, or a style guide, or a brand style guide, is a document containing detailed and specific instructions on how to present your brand to the world and protect it. It contains your brand’s entire visual environment with clear rules about the nitty gritty of presentation.

Depending on the particular startup and the scope of its brand, a style guide can be brief or many pages long. Whichever it is, it must cover your brand’s basics so whenever your audience sees you or speaks to you, a cohesive and consistent brand experience can be created for them.

In this article, we will briefly go over the essentials of a branding guide and give you examples of brands that have nailed it.

We will also talk about how to adapt your startup branding rules for a changed world in 2023. Because of the climate and culture, we’re currently in, and the education brands are going through, it’s incredibly important to have your values come across through your branding. Tell people what you stand for, and let them see that commitment through your visuals as well as your tone.

Come. Let’s begin.

A Brief Branding Guide For Startups

Why Are Branding Guides Important For Startups?

Branding guides serve three important functions for startups.

A definitive reference point

No matter if your startup team is scattered all over the country or even the globe, a branding guide will serve as a blueprint or a singular reference point that all teams can look to when presenting your brand to the world.

With clear brand guidelines, everyone will be able to communicate the exact content, design, and tone that is intended by the brand. This reduces chances of marketing or design faux pass, and ensures your brand is presented seamlessly across all media.

Consistent messaging

Consistency is key in branding. When you have a style guide, you have a document that lists all the rules and guidelines on how to keep the brand message consistent. This applies to design, tone, and vocabulary, too.

Unified brand identity

A unified or consistent brand identity is vital whether you are a startup or a large organization. But for startups, its importance multiplies. It enables your audience to recognize your brand quickly and solidifies that recognition in their memory. In comparison to having a haphazard identity, a strong and consistent one makes your brand more memorable and recognizable.

Essentials Of A Brand Guide

We’ve already mentioned that your brand guide could be as brief or as expansive as you want, but in the initial stages of your startup brand development, keep the guide concise. Only add things that are relevant for the next year or two so you don’t confuse yourself about things that could happen way into the future.

Later, as your brand begins to grow, so could (and must) your branding guide and all that it contains within.

1. Mission Statement

Mission statement

Image from Slack Brand Guidelines

Start your branding guide by clearly spelling out your mission statement, values, and vision.

Take people on board and tell them the story behind your brand. When you share your mission and vision statement and describe your values, it helps everyone understand why the brand needs to be the way it is, and equips them to take the ownership of the brand and present it to the world authentically.

2. Brand Logo

Sample Brand Logo

Image from Netflix Brand Microsite

Describe the design considerations behind your logo and specify the usage rules. Talk about size, color, font, placement, and layout. Do you have a tagline? Outline where it can be used and where it cannot.

Also mention and give visual examples of your logo variants. Make multiple variants of your good logo design to suit different needs, backgrounds, and mediums. Your print logo, for example, on company envelopes can be different from your letter mark logo on social media.

Ideally, make a good brand logo in 3-4 different variants. Apart from the main logo, the secondary versions could include all-icons, all-words, and letter abbreviations. Specify the uses of each variant and rule out situations in which a certain variant cannot be used.

Outline the font and color rules for your logo design, too. Remember, your logo is the most visual and vital asset of your brand. The clearer and more detailed you are with its usage instructions, the more protection you lend to your brand.

3. Color Palette

Image from Starbucks Brand Guide

People pay close attention to colors, and most of it happens on a subconscious level. We attach meanings and emotions to colors based on our personal preferences, moods, emotions, culture, and background.

With colors being such loaded vessels of communication, it’s important to get them always right when you have to replicate them. This replication will happen whenever you have to create new images/charts/presentations et., for website content, email newsletters, and more.

If you use certain colors on seasonal (or other bases) , like Starbucks, specify those palettes, too. And to keep everything clear, make sure you add as many examples and actual color imagery as you can.

To leave no room for error, specify color codes for each color in your palette. These codes include HEX, RGB, and CMYK. Include Pantone codes, too.

Also, remember to use different colors and color combinations for your logo and other brand assets. So, in your guidelines, separate these two and specify color palettes, codes, and combinations for your logo design as well as the larger brand.

Also read:

Tips for Defining your Brand Without a Large Budget Why Shopify Entrepreneurs Need to Focus on Brand Protection 5 Branding Strategies Every Startup Founder Should Know About 4. Typography System

Your brand style guide needs to have an entire section dedicated to typography and its usage.

As with color palettes, choose different fonts for your logo and other brand assets. This is necessary so the logo can stand out among your CTAs and other icons.

Start by introducing your type family. Choose one and find your variants among it. Walmart, for example, has created custom typeface Bogle and uses its variants as its secondary fonts for usage and combinations.

Sticking with one typeface family allows the text-based visuals to keep with a certain rhythm and look. It’ll further add to consistency and a harmonious brand will appear as a result.

When you are describing rules to your brand typography, include things like font sizes, kerning, alignment, line spacing, and more.

Typography System

Image from Walmart Brand Guidelines

If you want to keep certain font combinations for main usage while others for secondary purposes, lay it out in the style guide. Add content examples for headers, sub-headers, social media content, quotes, citations, and more. Describe your rules for typography hierarchy, and give examples for clarity.

Remember, if you have certain ideas in mind regarding how you want your type to appear on paper/screen, spell it out. Clear examples will reduce the chances for honest mistakes and will keep everyone on the same page.

5. Photography & Imagery

The way you capture your brand, the imagery, and the compositions you use are unique to you. Since human beings are visual creatures, we pay a lot of stock into visuals guiding most of our decisions, even when we don’t want to.

To make sure you use this tendency to help solidify your brand’s aesthetics in your audience’s mind, you have to help your team understand your vision and carry it through in all the product and other photography for your brand.

This includes rules and instructions about product photography templates, what kind of product pictures are allowed, how to insert text overlays, and whether they are allowed in the first place or not. If you want to specify one set of fonts solely for your photography and imagery, you need to add that in your style guide too.

An important thing to add here, avoid using stock images as much as possible. While they do work as good placeholders in certain situations, don’t normalize their use for your brand as it cheapens the entire look. Aim for original branding to elevate your brand among your peers and communicate an authentic narrative for your brand.

6. Brand Voice

Brand Voice

Image from FutureVision

How your brand sounds to people is as important as how it looks. Think of Nike versus Wendy’s. Both are iconic brands in their domains, but with very different voices and tones. Whenever you see a Nike ad, the message is inspirational, positive, and talks about goals and achievements. Wendy’s is witty and fun. When she speaks, you get the impression of a cool, casual, and fun person that you’d love to hang out with.

Wendy's

Image from Ad Week

As a brand, it’s your call how you envision your brand voice. But once you arrive at it and develop it, make it a part of your style guide so everyone is onboard.

To make sure marketers, designers, customer service, and other teams get your tone and voice right, use your branding guide to lay down its rules. Brands like Skype add preferred phrases, words, and adjectives to describe the brand voice and give examples of how the brand should and should not sound.

Image from Skype Style Guide

Conclusion

When developing your startup brand, the design and identity decisions rest with you. Once you solidify them into a style guide, they become your brand’s sole reference point. You could change them from time to time but before you put anything to writing, make sure this is the exact and the most perfect way your brand can be represented.

Then you can let your brand book out into the open and let others understand where your brand is coming from. Once people get behind your message and see how you want it communicated, it makes them more likely to rally behind your cause and, ultimately, become brand loyalists.

The post A Brief Branding Guide For Startups In 2023 appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Eric Elliott
Why are Small Businesses the Backbone of the Economy?

A healthy economy is essential for a country to thrive, and small businesses provide a variety of services and products that sustain the economy. Without small businesses, the economy would be unable to grow and develop. Let’s take a closer look at why small businesses are so important to economic growth.

Why are Small Businesses the Backbone of the Economy?

Small Businesses Create Job Opportunities

Small businesses create jobs for people in their communities that help fuel economic growth. When people have jobs, they can spend money on goods and services produced by other businesses, stimulating demand and leading to further job growth. This cycle creates a ripple effect in the economy that continues to drive growth while also providing stability.

In addition, small business owners often hire locally or even within their families, so job opportunities stay within the local community rather than migrating away or overseas. This allows them to contribute positively to their own communities by providing employment opportunities and enabling people to achieve financial security.

Small Businesses Strengthen Communities

The presence of small businesses gives communities an identity – it makes them unique and sets them apart from other places where there may be only large national chains. For example, if you want Italian food in your town, you can find it at a local Italian restaurant rather than having to go someplace else for it. This strengthens both pride in the community as well as its sense of identity.

Small Business Encourages Competition That Leads To Lower Prices

Finally, having multiple small businesses in one place encourages competition among them and leads to lower prices for goods and services for consumers – something that wouldn’t necessarily happen if there were only large corporations offering similar products or services. This drives innovation within those communities and creates better value for customers overall.

Small businesses are an integral part of any healthy economy; they create job opportunities, strengthen communities by giving them an identity, promote competition between different establishments which leads to lower prices for goods and services – all of which contribute greatly towards economic growth. Without small business owners taking risks everyday with their investments and entrepreneurship activities we would not have such vibrant economies around us today! It is clear that small businesses truly are the backbone of our economy today!

The post Why are Small Businesses the Backbone of the Economy? appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Wamanboult
10 Things Modern Manufacturing Buyers Want

Modern manufacturing buyers don’t look at things with the same mindset as they did before. The global manufacturing industry is constantly evolving. With the rise of automation and digital technology, modern manufacturing buyers have also evolved. They’re now looking for suppliers that can provide them with more than just a good product at a reasonable price. They want to know how you run your business, how it supports its employees, and how it impacts the environment around it. It has changed how manufacturers operate their factories and interact with their customers.

This article shares the 10 things modern manufacturing buyers want.

Things Modern Manufacturing Buyers Want

1. Buyers look beyond product quality – they want to know how suppliers’ operations are run.

In today’s manufacturing environment, buyers are looking beyond just product quality. They want to know how suppliers’ operations are run and what kind of people they employ.

For example, a buyer may ask if the supplier has employee policies that support diversity and inclusion. Or perhaps they request proof that their supply chain adheres to local labor laws and regulations. It could be a deal breaker if the supplier does not have these policies or provide proof of compliance.

2. Overseas manufacturers who embraced buyer portals are globally recognized.

Buyer portals have been around for some time, but they’re becoming even more critical to manufacturers. In the past, buyers only looked at a product and saw if it met their needs. Nowadays, they want to know how the product was made, what materials were used, who made it, and how many people worked on it.

Buyers also want to feel like they are part of the process—and that’s where a buyer portal comes in handy. They can see what’s happening with their purchase throughout production and even interact with employees at overseas facilities directly through these digital portals. It increases transparency between end users and manufacturers by allowing for better communication between parties involved in developing new products or services before making them available for sale on retail shelves back home.

3. Simple transactions are no longer the norm.

Today, buyers want to know more about your company than your product. They want to know about your operations, employees, and company culture. If buyers can’t see or feel something with their senses, they will not buy it—even if it’s cheaper.

How do you get this message across? How can a manufacturing buyer form an opinion on how well-run your factory is without visiting it? The answer is video tours of existing facilities and future plants under construction (if applicable). You need not be a professional videographer; what matters most is what’s happening onscreen rather than how cleverly it’s shot.

A video tour can show how your company goes beyond the call of duty for its customers. For example, mentioning this in the video tour is a good idea if you have strong relationships with local schools or charities.

4. Buyers want to feel valued and trusted.

Modern manufacturing buyers want to know that you are on their side, not just looking for a quick profit from them. They want to see that you care about what they do so much that it improves your business.

The new way of manufacturing is not just about getting a product out the door; it’s about ensuring that the people who use your products are happy with them. It’s about being more than just another supplier in the food chain but a part of the team trying to improve things for everyone involved.

5. Modern buyers want to be treated as partners, not just customers.

It means they expect to have input into the process and decisions about their order. They also hope to be able to influence decisions in ways beyond simply choosing what product will be used for their order.

You must give them this opportunity and listen to their thoughts on how best your product can serve them and what kind of design would work best in their industry or field of business. In exchange, they’ll deliver higher quality products with fewer defects than ever before, all while saving time and money on manufacturing costs due to reduced errors made during production time.

6. Manufacturing buyers want to focus on their business.

Today, buyers want to feel they can trust their supplier and that the supplier is focused on building a great relationship with them. They want to focus on their business and not worry about their suppliers. It’s a common concern among manufacturers: “I have so many other things I need to worry about—where does quality control fit in?”

Many manufacturers think quality control will take care of itself because outsourcing is cheaper than investing in internal staff or processes. However, this could be one of your biggest mistakes if you don’t set up a robust system for checking your suppliers’ work at every step.

7. Modern buyers want to feel your company is invested in them.

Modern manufacturing buyers don’t want to be treated as a cog in the wheel. They want to know they are a part of your company and that you are invested in their success, not just trying to profit from them. They also want to believe you are invested in your company’s and employees’ success. They want to feel like they are part of something greater, and they want you to help them achieve that.

8. Buyers want you to make their job easier, not harder.

The easiest way to make life easier for your customers is to make it easy on yourself. If you want your customers to find the information they need, give them what they want. If you want them to contact the right person, provide them with an email address or phone number that connects directly with that person’s inbox. If you want them to place an order, offer a way to do so online or over the phone (and make sure it’s clear how long it will take until their order ships).

If you want them to pay for their order, offer several different payment options—such as credit card processing via Stripe or PayPal—so there are no barriers between placing an order and getting results back from manufacturing.

And finally, tracking orders is vital for most business models (because inventory management is essential). Then make sure it’s easy for buyers who have placed orders in the past to keep track of those orders and access those details in real time by entering their email addresses. And make sure those details are accurate. You can’t afford to lose track of your customer’s orders, which will frustrate them and hurt your business in the long run.

If you want to get more customers, the best thing you can do is make it easy for them to become repeat buyers. Don’t force them to enter their information every time they order something; instead, use that information as a starting point and keep track of it in a database so they can check on their orders quickly.

9. Manufacturing buyers have access to more information than ever before.

In the old days, buyers mainly focused on how much a company could provide them at the cheapest price possible. However, in today’s market, especially when dealing with manufacturing buyers, you must think differently. They have access to more information than ever before and want to know what your business exactly does and how it operates.

They want to know about your suppliers, manufacturing processes, quality management systems (QMS), and even what kind of office space you have for employees. Buyers are interested in knowing how well you treat people who work for or with you and those who buy from or sell products through you: How friendly is your customer service team? How quickly do they respond when an issue arises? Do they follow up with customers after orders are placed?

What kind of business relationship do you have with your suppliers? Do they treat you with respect and provide the product quality you expect? What are your environmental policies, and how do they impact your company? These are a few examples of what buyers want to know before doing business with you.

10. The buyers’ demand for transparency has never been higher.

Your buyers want more information than ever before. They want to know how your operation is run, what you do to ensure quality in the products they receive, and how you handle your supply chain and inventory management. They also want to ensure you’re not using outdated or unethical practices.

To attract and retain customers, you must prove that your company is ethical and trustworthy. That means providing clear information about where you source your products, how they are made, what goes into them, and why they’re so good.

You can also use this information to show your customers that you’re committed to quality, ethics, and sustainability. By providing transparency into how your company operates, you can build a loyal customer base that will stick with you.

Conclusion

To be a successful manufacturer in the modern era, you must embrace the changes in buyer behavior. It doesn’t mean you must change anything about your company’s business model or operations. Instead, it simply means being more aware of what buyers are looking for today and adjusting your approach accordingly.

 

Author Bio

My name is Waman Boult and I’m a business strategist who specializes in sales, outreaching, and marketing strategies for businesses of all sizes, currently working at DataListsGroup one of the leading providers of b2b data. I have a deep understanding of what it takes to drive success and have an extensive network of industry experts that I can draw upon when needed.

The post 10 Things Modern Manufacturing Buyers Want appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
The 10 Best Marketing Ideas for Your Business

Marketing and demand generation is important for businesses today. This is because they help to increase brand awareness, attract customers, and drive sales. In a competitive market, businesses need to differentiate themselves from their competitors. They effectively communicate the value of their products or services to potential customers.

Marketing strategies can help businesses do this by promoting their brand and highlighting the unique features and benefits of their offerings.

Best Marketing Ideas for Your Business

Effective marketing also helps businesses build trust and credibility with their target audience. By providing valuable and relevant information to potential customers, businesses can establish themselves as an industry thought leaders. They can also demonstrate their expertise in their field.

This can help to build trust and establish long-term relationships with customers, which will lead to repeat business and customer loyalty.

So, here are the 10 best ideas for marketing and getting people interested in your business that you can use.

Content Marketing

Creating and sharing valuable, relevant, and consistent content can attract a clearly defined audience. It can also position your business as a powerful industry thought leader. This can help you attract qualified leads who are interested in your products or services.

Consistently creating and sharing high-quality content can also help increase brand awareness. Publishing content on your website and promoting it through social media and other channels can help drive traffic to your website. This increases the likelihood that visitors will convert to leads.

Appointment Setting Services

Appointment-setting services can be a valuable tool for businesses, especially in marketing and demand generation. These services help businesses schedule appointments with potential customers or clients and can lead to increased sales and revenue.

Appointment setters who are professionals have the knowledge and experience to effectively communicate with potential clients and secure appointments. They understand your target audience and know how best to engage them.

Another important reason to use appointment-setting services is improved data management. Appointment-setting services often use customer relationship management (CRM) software to track and manage data. This can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of a business’s marketing efforts.

Search Engine Optimization

By optimizing your website for relevant keywords, you can increase the chances that your website will rank higher in search results. This can bring about more organic traffic from search engines. Ranking highly in search results can also increase brand awareness.

Also, by optimizing your website for relevant keywords, you can attract visitors who are searching for products or services that your business offers. These visitors are more likely to be qualified leads because they are actively searching for what you have to offer. Optimizing your website for usability and mobile devices also helps you improve the user experience for your visitors.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing involves using social media platforms to connect with your target audience and drive traffic to your website. By consistently posting engaging content on social media, you can increase brand awareness.

Also, targeting your social media posts at your ideal customer helps you attract qualified leads who are interested in your products or services. You can also promote your content through social media ads. This will drive traffic to your website, increasing the chances that visitors will become leads.

Additionally, engaging with your followers and providing valuable information can build trust. It also establishes your business as a trusted resource. This makes it more likely that they will consider purchasing from you.

Email Marketing

Email marketing involves sending targeted, personalized emails to your email list to nurture leads and drive conversions. One way to create an email list is by offering free resources. These could be ebooks, webinars, or guides. In return, you get contact information through which you can capture leads and add them to your email list.

These leads are more likely to be qualified because they have shown an interest in your business by providing their contact information. Consistently sending high-quality, relevant emails to your list can increase brand awareness. It also keeps you in the minds of your contacts.

Also, by including links to your website in your emails and promoting your content through email marketing campaigns, you can drive traffic to your website.

You can also increase conversion by segmenting your email list and sending targeted, personalized emails. This way, you can increase the likelihood that your subscribers will take the desired action. This could be purchasing a product or signing up for a service.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is the process of partnering with influencers in your industry to reach a new audience and increase brand awareness. By partnering with influencers who have a large and engaged following, you can increase brand awareness. And you can reach a new audience that may be interested in your products or services.

Promoting your content and website through influencer marketing campaigns allows you to drive traffic to your website. This increases the likelihood that visitors will convert to leads.

Additionally, working with influencers who are trusted by their followers can increase the likelihood that their followers will take the desired action.

Paid Advertising

Paid advertising can be an effective way to generate demand for a product or service. When a business creates an advertisement and pays to have it displayed, it has the potential to reach a large audience and attract new customers.

This is because paid advertising allows businesses to target specific demographics, locations, and interests. It could reach people who may not have otherwise heard about their products or services.

By creating compelling advertisements and placing them in strategic locations, businesses can create awareness and interest in their products. This leads to increased demand. Additionally, paid advertising can help businesses build their brand and establish themselves as leaders in their industry. This also contributes to demand generation.

Lead Magnets

Lead magnets are tools that businesses use to attract and capture the contact information of potential customers, intending to generate leads. Lead magnets can be effective for demand generation. This is because they provide value to potential customers in exchange for their contact information.

This value could be in the form of a free resource, such as an e-book or webinar, or a discount on a product or service. By offering a lead magnet, businesses can attract a targeted audience. This target audience is interested in their products or services and is more likely to make a purchase.

Once a business has captured the contact information of a potential customer through a lead magnet, it can use marketing techniques, such as email marketing and retargeting, to nurture the lead and move them further along the sales path. This can help to generate demand for the business’s products or services by turning leads into paying customers.

Referral Marketing

Referral marketing is a type of marketing strategy that relies on the recommendations of satisfied customers to attract new business. When a customer refers a product or service to a friend or family member, they are essentially acting as a brand ambassador. And this can be an effective way to generate demand for a business.

When a customer shares their positive experience with a product or service with others, it can create buzz and interest in the business. Referrals also increase customer retention. Satisfied customers who refer others to the business are more likely to continue using the product or service themselves.

Networking

Networking is the process of building and maintaining relationships with other professionals and organizations in your industry. It can be an effective way to help with marketing and demand generation for several reasons:

Building relationships: Networking allows businesses to build relationships with other professionals and organizations in their industry. This can lead to partnerships, referrals, and other opportunities to promote their products or services. Sharing knowledge and expertise: Participating in industry events and joining professional organizations allows businesses to share their knowledge and expertise with others. This can help establish their credibility and thought leadership. Discovering new opportunities: Networking can help businesses discover new opportunities. These include speaking engagements, media appearances, and collaborations. All of these can help to increase awareness and demand for their products or services. Staying up-to-date: Networking can also help businesses stay up-to-date on industry trends and changes. This can help them adapt and stay competitive.

Conclusion

Many marketing ideas can be effective for your business. And the best approach will be largely dependent on your goals and the target audience. The available resources will also be a crucial factor. Some ideas to consider include paid advertising, lead magnets, referral marketing, networking, and public relations.

It may also be beneficial to incorporate a mix of online and offline marketing strategies. This way, you can test and measure the effectiveness of different approaches. You must also carefully consider your marketing strategy and regularly evaluate and adjust your efforts.

This will help you effectively generate demand for your business and achieve your marketing goals. However, utilizing these ideas can be a great starting point for any business looking to up its marketing game and reach a larger audience.

The post The 10 Best Marketing Ideas for Your Business appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
The Only Retirement Guide You’ll Ever Need

Not everyone retires with millions of dollars to spare. The limited savings you have after retirement, fueled by the lack of income, often prove to be devastating for the individual and their families in the event of critical illnesses. Going debt-free, regular exercise, maintaining mental health, and health insurance like Medicare or private insurance helps you support your medical expenses without eating up most of your savings.

However, carefully choosing a Medicare plan is quite critical. Despite being one of the cheapest alternatives, the federal Medicare plan has set the standards for other insurance programs. We’ll brief you about the other contexts of retirement and go through each part of the Medicare plan in this article and help you choose the best ones.

The Only Retirement Guide You’ll Ever Need

Why Health Insurance Is Important After Retirement

The primary reason to consider health insurance after retirement is lowered income. For most of the population, retirement means losing the primary income source. Even if you continue to work after your retirement, the absence of the major dollars should be compelling enough for you to buy a Medicare plan for drug and medical coverage.

The second reason is the increased risk of critical diseases. As you age, especially after retirement, you become more susceptible to severe and long-term diseases than younger people. Moreover, your organs like your heart, kidneys, and bones start to deteriorate pretty fast. Having a healthcare plan ensures that you get proper treatment and medications.

The third reason is safeguarding your savings. As you work through your whole life for your family, it’s devastating to see it all gone in a single extended hospital visit. A Medicare plan empowers you to get proper medical attention without worrying about drying out your savings.

Staying Healthy After Retirement

It’s understandable that you may not be as active after retirement as you once were. But, that shouldn’t stop you from maintaining your physical and mental health with exercise and proper dieting. Try to stay active with a gym membership specially designed for seniors or at minimum, stroll around a few blocks every day. If possible, join social clubs with members who actively indulge in physical activities like light exercises and hiking to maintain your physical and emotional health.

You may also need to change your diet after retirement. Consult your physician for the same. Avoid drinking and smoking as much as possible. Also, regularly go through routine checkups for any chronic and critical illnesses that may develop due to your age and lack of active work.

Going Debt-Free

While you may already have started to go debt free even before your retirement, the lumpsum gained from investments may also help you repay the debts. Consider avalanche or snowball method to repay the remaining debts that you may have.

Also read:

4 Reasons Why You Should Plan for your Retirement What Do People Fear Most About Their Retirement 7 Great Tips For FIRE – Financial Independence, Retire Early What Is Medicare

Reserved for individuals over the age of 65, younger people with disabilities and patients with end-stage renal failures, Medicare is a federal health insurance program that ensures the proper treatment for everyone irrespective of their income.

There are primarily 2 different parts of the Medicare program. Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage Plans. In the original medicare, Hospital (Part A) and Medical (Part B) are involved. However, Medigap and the Drug Plan (Part D) aren’t included.

The Medicare Florida Advantage Plan includes it all but misses out on out-of-network doctors across the US. It also is much more expensive than Original Medicare. However, out-of-networks are also covered in an emergency or urgent cases.

The limitations of Medicare plans are fitness programs, vision, hearing, and dental services. If you choose to consider any of these, your plan may not cover the costs. However, customizations are possible to include a few components like transportation, wellness services, and over-the-counter drugs.

As with most health insurance plans, deductibles are also present in Medicare. However, the Medicare Advantage Plans limit your yearly out-of-pocket costs for Part A and Part B. Once you’ve reached the limit, you aren’t required to spend anything for the purpose from your savings.

Medicare Part A

The most basic hospital coverages are considered in Medicare Plan A. Which includes:

Inpatient care in a hospital Nursing home care Nursing facility care Home health care Hospice care

Both the Original and Advantage Medicare plans include Part A as their basis of service. However, not every healthcare service or provider is included in the plan. Talk to your agent if your plan will cover what your healthcare provider has recommended. In a few cases, your procedure may not be covered even if it usually does.

The Part A of Medicare is based on: Federal and state laws of a particular location. Decisions made by Medicare if something is covered or not. Policies set by companies processing the claims for Medicare plans. These companies are responsible for determining if your situation should be covered by Medicare or not. They work within the bounds of specific guidelines. Medicare Part B

Basic medical services are covered in Part B. Again, both Original and Advantage Medicare plans include medical care (Part B) as a basic feature. It includes

Ambulance services Clinical research Durable Medical Equipment Mental health coverage including inpatient, outpatient, and partial hospitalization. A few prescription drugs

Typically, Part B covers medically necessary services that need to be facilitated to diagnose underlying issues and preventive services to detect diseases at an early stage to treat it. Similar to Part A, you need to talk to your healthcare provider about why you need a certain service or supply and understand if it’ll be covered by Medicare. Again, depending on the effect of the issue on your quality of life, you may or may not be entitled to get covered by Medicare.

Medigap

Sold separately by private companies, Medigap fills the gap in Original Medicare and provides customers with a more than adequate experience while claiming the expenses. The most common costs that are covered by Medigap are:

Copayments Coinsurance Deductibles

Moreover, Medigap services thrive to offer services that the Original Medicare doesn’t cover like treatment outside the US or dental services. Let’s understand how Medigap works.

Medicare pays the approved amount to the healthcare provider. Medigap kicks in to pay its share.

However, to avail of Medigap, you must already have Part A and Part B included in your plan. Also, it’s not a replacement for Advantage Medicare Plan and only supplements the Original Medicare benefits.

To avail of Medigap, you must pay the private insurance company their premium, in addition to paying Medicare for the primary insurance. Consider comparing Medigap services before opting in to get the plan that works for you. However, no one can sell you Medigap if you have an Advantage Medicare Plan and wish to continue with the same.

Medicare Part D

Included in the Advantage Plan and extendible in the Original Plan, Medicare Part D Focuses on prescription drugs and drugs in certain protected classes, including the drugs that treat cancer or HIV/AIDS. Depending on the plan, the formulary—list of drugs, may change. Typically, lower-tier drugs cost less than higher-tier drugs.

Typically, a minimum of two drugs from each class are included in the drug plan, but there aren’t any regulations as to which of them to choose. It depends on the plan. Therefore, you may not find the particular drug you are prescribed, but a different one with the same composition. You can learn more about the formulary and tiers here.

The Bottom Line

It’s important to understand the importance of healthcare after retirement. Hopefully, this article has been able to guide you through the complexities of choosing a Medicare plan that works for you. Get informed about Part A, B, and D for the basic coverage. Consider Medigap if you need additional support.

The post The Only Retirement Guide You’ll Ever Need appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
What Is The Difference Between Database Marketing And Direct Marketing?

There needs to be more clarity regarding the difference between database marketing and direct marketing. Both involve databases, but they are two very different things. Database marketing uses data to understand your customers and target them with relevant messages.

On the other hand, direct marketing is about using data to reach out to customers directly with a specific offer or promotion. So, which one should you be using for your business? It depends on your goals and objectives. In this blog post, we will explore the differences between database marketing and direct marketing so that you can make the best decision for your business.

Difference Between Database Marketing And Direct Marketing

What is Database Marketing?

Database marketing is a type of direct marketing that uses database technology to target specific customers and collect data about them. This data can be used to create targeted marketing campaigns that are more likely to result in sales.

Database marketing is often used by companies that sell products or services online. By collecting data about their customers, they can better understand their target market and what type of campaigns will be most effective. Additionally, database marketing can be used to track the results of marketing campaigns and analyze customer behavior.

Who benefits from Database Marketing?

Database marketing is a form of marketing that uses customer databases to target potential customers with personalized messages. Database marketing uses customer data to create targeted lists for direct mail, email, or telemarketing campaigns.

Database marketing can be more effective than traditional mass-marketing techniques because it allows businesses to focus their efforts on specific groups of consumers who are more likely to be interested in their products or services.

However, database marketing can be more expensive and time-consuming than other forms of marketing. Several key groups benefit from database marketing:

Customers: Database marketing can help you better understand your customers and their needs, leading to improved customer service and satisfaction. Marketing team: Database marketing provides valuable insights that can help the marketing team make more informed decisions about where to allocate resources and hence generate useful leads. Sales team: By understanding the customer better, the sales team can more effectively sell to them and close more deals. IT team: The IT team can use database marketing to improve the efficiency of their systems and processes. What is Direct Marketing?

Direct marketing is a form of marketing that involves communicating with potential customers directly without using intermediaries. The most common forms of direct marketing are email marketing, telemarketing, and direct mail. With direct marketing, businesses can target specific groups of consumers with customized messages that aim to promote a product or service.

Direct marketing allows businesses to track responses and measure the success of their campaigns.

Who Benefits from Direct Marketing?

There are many benefits of direct marketing, including the ability to target specific audiences, the ability to track results, and the ability to customize messages.

Targeting specific audiences is one of the most important benefits of direct marketing. Businesses can create targeted lists that they can use to send personalized messages by using data from customers and prospects. This helps businesses easily reach their ideal customers and significantly increases the chances of conversion.

Tracking results is another great benefit of direct marketing. With the right tools, businesses can track who opened their emails, clicked on links, and made purchases. This allows businesses to see which messages resonate with their audience and make necessary adjustments on the fly.

Lastly, direct marketing allows businesses to customize messages for each recipient. This ensures that every customer feels like they are receiving a personal message rather than a generic advertisement. Businesses can use data from previous interactions to tailor their messages and increase the likelihood of conversion.

Also read: 6 Ways Direct Mail Marketing Boosts Customer Engagement

Major Difference between Database Marketing and Direct Marketing

Database marketing and direct marketing are often used interchangeably, but there is a big difference between the two. Database marketing is all about using customer data to create targeted marketing campaigns. On the other hand, direct marketing is a form of advertising that involves reaching out to customers directly without using any data.

Here are some of the major differences between database marketing and direct marketing:

Database marketing is data-driven, while direct marketing is not. Database marketing relies on customer data to create targeted campaigns, while direct marketing does not use customer data. Database marketing usually involves email or other digital channels, while direct marketing can use any channel (including print, TV, etc.). Direct marketing is typically more expensive than database marketing. Direct marketing is less effective than database marketing because it needs more personalization that comes with targeting specific customers with tailored messages. Conclusion

Database marketing and direct marketing are two types of marketing that can be used to reach potential customers. Both have advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to choose the right one for your needs. Database marketing is great for targeting a specific audience but can be costly and time-consuming. Direct marketing is cheaper and easier to set up. Still, it could be more effective at reaching a specific target market.

The post What Is The Difference Between Database Marketing And Direct Marketing? appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

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New Technology in the Digital World

For women entrepreneurs, it’s not just about working harder or better than the competition. It's about utilizing technology and tools that can help you work more effectively and efficiently. New technology in the digital world can empower you to build your business, no matter the industry. For business owners, knowing what type of technology to use can be a challenge, though. Where should you get started?

Below are some of the options in new technology for the digital world for women entrepreneurs.

Project Management Technology for Entrepreneurs

Juggling numerous tasks, assignments, and projects is a good sign. It means your business is working and potentially growing. Yet, dropping the ball, perhaps due to a late assignment or a missed call, can tarnish your brand among current and potential clients. Project management tools can help with this by providing a digital way to always stay on top of your business.

Numerous project management tools are available, including some customized for specific industries or types of projects. Here are the top three options in both up-and-coming and proven project management systems.

#1: Monday.com

Monday.com is an expandable project management tool with plenty of flexibility for customization. Project data, along with various reports and visualization tools, enables easy management of multi-step projects. It offers:

•             An easy-to-use interface

•             Plenty of configuration options to meet your business methods

•             Lots of marketing and CRM integrations

#2: Trello

Trello uses Kanban boards that tend to work well for highly visual people. It’s easy to learn and customizable for most businesses. Trello does a great job with its numerous template options, too. Some key features include:

•             A free plan that provides up to 250 automated comments each month

•             Lots of integrations, including Slack and Google Drive

•             Quick set-up with drag-and-drop design

#3: ClickUp

For startups looking for a cost-effective solution, ClickUp is an excellent choice. It provides numerous collaborative documents, whiteboard tools, and in-app chat features. It also can integrate with Dropbox, G Suite, Slack, and much more. You might choose ClickUp because of it:

•             Works well for different-sized teams

•             Makes workflow customization simple and effective

•             Lets you track and visualize project data

Accounting Technology for the Digital World

Accounting management is often a difficult part of managing new businesses. For women entrepreneurs who want to stay on top of their financials, there are some excellent technology options out there to support your success. Here are three proven and up-and-coming options.

#1: FreshBooks

For the most affordable business accounting software, consider FreshBooks. It provides a wide range of tools, including customizations to fit the way your business operates. Some key features include:

•             Comprehensive cloud-based accounting solutions

•             Excellent cash management tools

•             Easy-to-use visual dashboards for “seeing” where your money is going

#2: Sage

A newer option, Sage is an excellent choice for small businesses that want to enhance their automation. It provides full business application and enterprise resource planning resources in one. In new technology in accounting, hyper-automation is key, and Sage does it well. Key features include:

•             Automatic reconciliation tools, finance tracking, and cash flow forecasting

•             Straightforward purchase invoice management 

•             Cloud-based functionality with real-time banking integration

#3: Wave Accounting

Another newer company, Wave Accounting, is an excellent free tool with the ability to add payroll processing and payment solutions. It’s excellent for small businesses that want fast and efficient functionality without a lot of slowdowns. Key features include:

•             Recurring billing with automation

•             Unlimited partners and collaborator additions possible

•             A fully cloud-based dashboard

Digital Media Management Tools for Startups

Today's business owners have a significant amount of digital media to manage. Connecting with customers online, managing visuals, and creating engaging marketing platforms require some of the best modern technology. For your business, consider these specific digital media management platforms streamlining business efforts.

#1: Brandfolder

Brandfolder makes managing digital assets easy, helping you grow your business in a more streamlined manner. This digital asset management platform can help your business build your brand quickly and across all platforms with features such as:

•             Cloud-based storage to handle all forms of digital assets

•             Automatic asset tagging and organization

•             Analytics about who uses content and how

#2: Buffer

For social media management, Buffer offers a streamlined, affordable solution that can benefit most of today’s businesses, including those looking to rebrand. It provides ample support to get users started, and the tools are innovative and even some of the most cutting-edge. Key features include:

•             A full suite of features for engagement, publishing, landing pages, and posts

•             Excellent customer support to help clients stay up-to-date on the newest innovations

•             Analytical tools that provide insight into how any solution works

#3: Sprout Social

Sprout Social is a blend of customer relationship management and social media management, a unique combination of two essential tools for the digital world. It’s simple to learn but often upgraded to incorporate new tools and solutions. Some core benefits include:

•             Scalability that enhances growth opportunities

•             Post monitoring and scheduling

•             Analytic tools that provide insight into the best campaigns

Build Your Business with Confidence

These new technologies for the digital world allow businesses to take their business online, connect with new customers, and deliver efficiencies, including in financial management. From proven to newer solutions, these companies do it best because they offer the latest innovations in the industry that all women entrepreneurs can benefit from for most types of businesses.

Author: Krista Murphy, MLZ Creative

- Alycia Benson
Women's Entrepreneurship Day 2022

Celebrated by over 144 countries, November 19th, 2022 marks Women's Entrepreneurship Day, a chance to recognize the accomplishments and contributions of the women entrepreneurs in our communities who work tirelessly to drive economic growth, create vibrancy, and inspire the next generation of girls.

In Canada, over 1 million women are entrepreneurs, with 17 per cent of Canadian small and medium-sized businesses being owned by women. And that number continues to grow! In fact, over the past 40 years, the number of female entrepreneurs has quadrupled. The Government of Canada has identified that continuing to increase women's participation in the economy could add up to $150 billion towards Canada’s GDP.

That’s why it is so important that we build supports our women entrepreneurs can rely on. At Alberta Women Entrepreneurs we take that commitment seriously. Alongside our training and workshops, business advising, and mentorship opportunities, we’re working to transform the business environment for women. Earlier this year we worked with partners across the province to publish our Impact Paper, Leveraging Economic Opportunities for Women in Alberta, a framework that will help systematically address gaps for women entrepreneurs, current and future.

And Alberta is no stranger to incredible and hard-working women entrepreneurs. Alberta Women Entrepreneurs recently celebrated four inspirational women at the 2022 AWE Awards for their contributions to the province: Jennifer Schaeffer, owner of Onlea Enterprises; Vanessa Marshall, owner of Jack59 Inc.; Breanne Everett, owner of Orpyx Medical Technologies Inc.; and Manjit Minhas, owner of Minhas Breweries, Distilleries, and Winery. These women are a true example of what’s possible when women are full participants in entrepreneurship.

This Women's Entrepreneurship Day take the time to visit and support your local women-owned businesses. Their contributions continue to be vital to the health and liveliness of our province and country.

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- Catherine Larose
Celebrating the 2022 AWE Award Recipients!

Supporting the entrepreneurs in our community means recognizing the amazing work women are doing and celebrating their successes. This past month, Alberta Women Entrepreneurs had the pleasure of honoring four outstanding Alberta women for their dedication and commitment to the Alberta business community at the 2022 AWE Awards.

Above (left to right): Jewel Buksa, Jennifer Schaeffer, Breanne Everett, Vanessa Marshall, Marcela Mandeville.

Celebration of Achievement Award

Awarded to an exceptional female entrepreneur who has achieved recognizable success and acts as a role model for women in business. This visionary woman is an inspirational leader who has built an entrepreneurial venture in Alberta that has made a significant impact on the economy and the community.

Recipient: Manjit Minhas, Minhas Breweries, Distilleries and Winery

Over 20 years ago, when she was 19, Manjit and her brother Ravinder set out to make a spirit that they could sell in local liquor stores. In just a short time, that idea snowballed into over 90 brands. Now, Manjit is the founder and owner of Minhas Distillery, Minhas Brewery, and Minhas Winery, earning her enough of a reputation to take a role as an investor on Dragon’s Den. Manjit is a true example of the vigour and vision that Alberta women entrepreneurs have in creating successful and long-lasting businesses on the global stage. Though she has faced challenges throughout her career, she reminds other entrepreneurs: failure is not the opposite of success; it’s a part of success.

Emerging Entrepreneur Award

Awarded to a female entrepreneur who has built a strong, scalable business foundation and has achieved early success.

Recipient: Jennifer Schaeffer, Onlea Enterprises




Onlea is more than an online learning platform; it’s a commitment to accessible, masterful, and quality education that helps their clients grow. From the opioid crisis to the proper use of pronouns, this empathy-led team is creating meaningful content while revolutionizing what it means to learn online. Jennifer focuses on combining different learning styles with gaming techniques, graphic design, and film to produce content that’s engaging. Her business recently launched a research and development project that will utilize artificial intelligence to further individualize the learning experience.

Indigenous Entrepreneur Award

 Awarded to a leading Indigenous woman entrepreneur with a strong business concept and demonstrates plans for future growth and commitment to the community.

 Recipient: Vanessa Marshall, Jack59 Inc.

 

Spurred by a desire to spend more time with her daughter, Vanessa founded Jack59, a company specializing in hair care. But Jack59 products are far from your average shampoo and conditioners. Built on the idea that small changes can have a big impact, all of the products are made with the goal of reducing single-use plastic consumption and global water transport. Vanessa is helping create self-aware consumers while providing a business environment that allows her staff with flexible working hours so they can prioritize their family, just like she did.

Upsurge Entrepreneur Award

Awarded to a female entrepreneur who has built a solid foundation for her business and is now experiencing rapid growth.

Recipient: Breanne Everett, Orpyx Medical Technologies Inc.

 

Though she loved working as a clinician, Breanne recognized that Orpyx would allow her to have a greater impact on the diabetes community. Rather than offering care for patients who were suffering from limb loss, she wanted to create an innovative technology that could help prevent it from happening in the first place. Now her team works with two centres of excellence across the province in order to ensure that people living with diabetes can maintain their mobility, something that will change lives for thousands of individuals. And Breanne is just getting started when it comes to her insole technology, believing that in the future it could be used for all kinds of movement-related situations.

Since 2012, the annual AWE Awards have recognized more than 1000 women entrepreneurs in Alberta as award nominees. This year’s recipients join a prestigious list of Alberta entrepreneurs who are making a difference in their communities and around the world. Special thanks to our Presenting Sponsor, ATB Financial!

AWE has worked with thousands of entrepreneurs through coaching, mentorship, leadership development, business advising, access to capital, and access to networks over the last 27 years.

To learn more about the AWE Awards, please visit https://www.awebusiness.com/2022-awards-celebration

- Courtney Bettin
Building A Community Around Your Business

When a customer decides to go in search of a product or service, they have a plethora of options available. So, what drives them towards one option over another? There are many factors, but a big factor is the sense of loyalty they feel. And that’s driven by the community that’s built around a business.

You can start building a community by creating opportunities for customers to get to know your business better and even a chance to find a group of like-minded people. Those interactions make people feel like they’re part of something bigger, and if that feeling is consistent, then it strengthens the connection they feel to your business.

Small business owners are in a unique position when it comes to community building because they know their customers intimately. The more you get to know who your customers are and what they like, the more value you can offer them when interacting with your brand, and the quicker you can pivot with community desires.

Here are a few ways that you can build a community around your business that customers will be proud to be a part of:

Develop a social presence

This may seem obvious, but taking the time to create good social content can be one of the cheapest and easiest ways of building a community around your business. People reach for their phones dozens of times throughout the day, which creates a lot of opportunities for you to make a connection. This is also a great place for your customers to engage with one another, turning your brand into a space where people can discuss a common interest and feel inspired by new ideas.

Utilize software to get to know your customer base

To add real value for your customer, you need to know what they’re looking for in your business. Investing in software like customer engagement platforms or customer relationship management tools can help you find patterns in your customer data. AWE’s Bold Leadership Program helps business owners figure out what digital tools are best for their business to help improve performance.

Collaborate with other businesses

Capitalize on the work that other businesses are doing with their communities by creating partnerships. Maybe making a purchase at your store means they get 10% off at the coffee shop down the street. Or maybe you collaborate on a social media giveaway. There are a lot of creative ways that businesses can cross-promote and share the community they already have.

Host events

This won’t be feasible for every business but finding opportunities to host events will help customers boost those connections with each other while making positive memories in your space. Spending an evening surrounded by your products will make them more likely to purchase something, and they’ll leave with an experience they tell their friends and family about later. 

No matter how you decide to connect with your customers, the most important thing is to be genuine. Loyalty comes from really knowing and caring about a business, so don’t be afraid to show your personality! With a little time and consistency, you’ll be able to find people who are just as passionate about your business as you are and make a meaningful impact in their lives.

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- Catherine Larose
2022 Awards Finalists Announced

EDMONTON, AB – A group of ten extraordinary Alberta women entrepreneurs were named this year’s AWE Awards finalists.

“These finalists represent incredible possibility, remarkable innovation, and undeniable talent,”  says Marcela Mandeville, CEO, Alberta Women Entrepreneurs. “They are moving their businesses and our province forward.”

The awards, presented by ATB Financial, recognize the efforts of women entrepreneurs in four categories. This year’s finalists include:

Emerging Entrepreneur Award – Awarded to a female entrepreneur who has built a strong, scalable business foundation and has achieved early success.

Jennifer Schaeffer, Onlea Enterprises, Inc.

Shannon Van Norman, Shadow Vista Productions

Ashley Wevers, AdvancdAg Inc.

Carey Ann Thurlow, Risio Institute for Digital Dental Education Inc.

Indigenous Entrepreneur Award – Awarded to a leading Indigenous woman entrepreneur who has a strong business concept and demonstrates plans for future growth and commitment to the community.

Mallory Yawnghwe, Indigenous Box Inc.

Vanessa Marshall, Jack59 Inc.

Angie Saltman, Saltmedia Inc

Upsurge Award – Awarded to a female entrepreneur who has built a solid foundation for her business and is now experiencing rapid growth.

Breanne Everett, Orpyx Medical Technologies Inc.

Deanne Beis, Tenfold HR Solutions

Jenelle Wensley, Genex Marketing

Since 2012, the annual AWE Awards have recognized more than 800 women entrepreneurs in Alberta. Previous award winners include such notable Alberta entrepreneurs as Karina Birch of Rocky Mountain Soap Co., Karen Ryan and Lara Murphy of Ryan Murphy Construction, and Angela Santiago of The Little Potato Company.

Along with the awards, AWE has worked with thousands of entrepreneurs through coaching, mentorship, leadership development, business advising, access to capital, and access to networks over the last 25 years.

To learn more about the awards, visit: www.awebusiness.com/2022-awards-celebration . Get your ticket to the in-person Awards Celebration at the Edmonton Expo Center on September 13 on Eventbrite.

- Stephanie Nunn
Sustainability in Business

Sustainability has many advantages for your business. It can provide an improved brand image, greater employee retention, competitive advantages, and tax benefits, as well as minimize business costs and increase productivity and efficiency. Caring about sustainability has become more prominent in recent years, and consumers are more aware of a company’s impact on society, the economy, and the environment. Taking action to create a more sustainable company can increase customer loyalty and help to grow a successful business.

This article will break down sustainability into its three main pillars; social, economic, and environmental. These pillars are also sometimes referred to as people, profit, and planet.

Social SustainabilityWhat is Social Sustainability?

Social Sustainability focuses on how business operations impact people; including employees, suppliers, and partners. Social Sustainability can improve business strategy, supply chain, and consumer perception of the business. It can also help attract business partners, improve employee morale, risk management, and can help a business lead their industry and stand out against the competition.

Businesses that focus on social sustainability tend to prioritize things such as:

Human rights

Fair labor practices

Healthcare access

Workplace safety

Diversity

Equity

Proper work-life balance

Cultural empowerment

Community engagement & volunteering

 Questions to ask yourself:

Does my business aim to meet the needs of a disadvantaged and/or marginalized group?

Does my business recognize cultural, ethnic, and racial diversity?

Does my business welcome diverse viewpoints, opinions and beliefs?

Does my business practice and encourage community contribution?

How does my business demonstrate commitment to an improved quality of life?

Economic Sustainability What is Economic Sustainability?

Economic Sustainability focuses on a business’s environment and economic wellbeing. Economic Sustainability promotes the idea of providing long-term benefits by growing the company in a way that is efficient and responsible to ensure consistent, ongoing profit without degradation.

Businesses that focus on economic sustainability tend to prioritize things such as:

Profit

Cost savings

Efficient resource use

Long-range planning

Smart economic growth

Taxes

R&D spending

Questions to ask yourself:

Am I tracking my business expenses, profit, and savings?

How can my business meet my present economic needs without diminishing future economic opportunities?

Am I reinvesting my business?

How much of my resources go to waste?

Does my business contribute to the financial welfare of the owners, employees, and the community it operates in?

Environmental Sustainability What is Environmental Sustainability?

Environmental Sustainability focuses on maintaining business functions without jeopardizing the environment and the future of the planet. A business should responsibly interact with the planet to ensure natural resources are maintained and an environment that can continue to support human life is kept a priority. Environmentally sustainable business practices can also help to gain a competitive advantage in the market.

Businesses that focus on environmental sustainability tend to prioritize things such as:

Resource management

Emissions reduction

Renewable energy sources

Recycling, composting

Natural alternatives

Questions to ask yourself:

Are my decisions reducing my business’s negative impact on the environment?

Am I developing strategies and processes that will lead to my business becoming more sustainable in the future?

How can my business lead the community and other businesses towards environmental sustainability?

Am I looking at short-term gain instead of focusing on my business’s long term impact?

How and where does my business source its materials and resources?

Does my business publish an annual environmental report?

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- Stephanie Nunn
BOLD Leadership Overview

In today’s day and age, it’s nearly impossible to run a business that doesn’t include a digital component. Incorporating digital aspects to your business can look like so much more than just an online storefront. Many entrepreneurs may be missing out on huge opportunities to strengthen their business by not taking advantage of all technological possibilities.

That’s where Alberta Women Entrepreneurs’ BOLD Leadership program comes in.

 

Over the course of the program, entrepreneurs get a baseline of knowledge about what a digital transformation can look like for their business before creating a plan that fits their needs and abilities. “The Bold Leadership Program focuses on the critical components of building a digital strategy for a business.” Says Gabriela Touma; Bold Leadership Program Advisor. Covering a range of topics from digital marketing to improving the customer experience, the aim is of this program is to get participants thinking about all of the ways, big and small, that digitalization can save them time and money.

A lot of people feel overwhelmed because there is so much technology out there. AWE’s Bold Leadership program tries to give people enough of an idea of what the technologies are about and then how to start to incorporate that into their business.

Some entrepreneurs, like Danielle Cherewyk, focus on mapping out how to automate their business processes, saving their team dozens of hours a week. Others may focus on developing new revenue models so they can start scaling up. Beyond the tangible benefits that can come from putting new technologies into practice, the greatest win can be a shift in business culture.

 

We want to help leaders start creating a culture of innovation in their companies. Sometimes leaders will feel that all of the innovative ideas fall on them, but we help them build a framework so that they can actually draw on all the innovation and the talents in their team to help move the whole company forward.

“Within The Bold Leadership Program, business leaders will learn everything from how to build a digital strategy, how to effectively leverage current and emerging technologies, and how to understand the drivers of transformation, Touma says, but most importantly we are helping them navigate the digital space with other inspiring women leaders that are excited to learn, collaborate and add to the conversation.”

While teaching the skills is important, AWE recognizes that creating a network of support for businesses as they go through their digital transformation is what takes an idea from concept to execution. Participants have access to one-on-one time with expert digital advisors during and after the course so they can continue to receive advice that is relevant to their unique business.  

“The connections that happen in the program are remarkable. We’ve heard from many participants how much it has changed their businesses!”

- Guest User
You’ve Received Your Business Loan, Now What?

Getting the news that you’ve qualified for a loan to start or grow your business is both exciting and nerve-wracking. Knowing where to start and what to do with it can feel overwhelming. Here’s what we recommend doing before you receive the loan or as soon as you do:

Have a clear understanding of the terms of your loan

Step 1 is making sure that you clearly understand what the terms of your loan are, and what your repayment plan is. These are important because some loans can only be used for certain things, plus it’s essential to follow the terms of your loan.

For example, AWE Loans can be used for market-ready start-ups, business expansion projects, and business purchases. Loans can be used for a variety of expenses, including:

Leasehold improvements

Equipment purchases

Operating capital

Advertising and marketing costs

Purchase of inventory

Loans cannot be used for:

Owner’s salary

Re-financing existing debt

Franchise fees

Speculative ventures (e.g. Purchase of land for resale)

Intangible goodwill (i.e. business name or reputation)

Research and development

Purchase of stocks, shares, or other non-productive investment

Review your repayment plan and make a budget

The next thing you should do when you receive your business loan is to make a budget based on your repayment plan. All loans come with repayment plans, which should be discussed when applying for the loan and going through the application process. Now that you have the money, you should sit down and make a budget based on what you plan on spending and the terms of your repayment plan. 

Prioritize what you got the loan for

Refer back to your strategic/marketing plan - what was your plan for this money? It’s important to stay the course as much as possible and utilize this loan money for its intended purposes. We know that things can come up along the way and plans can change, but the more you’re able to follow that initial strategic plan you created and spend your loan money on those things, the easier it will be to stay on track with repaying the loan. Holding yourself accountable can be difficult. If you don’t have a business partner to hold you accountable, consider speaking with a mentor, confidant or one of AWE’s Business Advisors

Once you are familiar with your terms and repayment plan, have a budget mapped out and know where you’re going to be prioritizing spending the loan money, you can start spending it! This can feel daunting at first, but with a well laid-out plan and lots of thought having gone into this whole process, you shouldn’t worry about taking this next exciting step to grow your business.

For more information on AWE’s Loan programs, click here.

- Amanda Muskego
2022 AWE Awards: Nominees Announced
Celebrating Extraordinary Albertan Entrepreneurs

MEDIA RELEASE

EDMONTON, AB –Alberta women entrepreneurs proved to be unstoppable in their efforts to better the world. Today, Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) is recognizing those efforts by naming nominees across four categories in its annual AWE Awards.

Awards Overview and Nominees

Emerging Entrepreneur Award – Awarded to an entrepreneur who has built a strong, scalable business foundation and has achieved early success.

Indigenous Entrepreneur Award – Awarded to a leading Indigenous entrepreneur who has a strong business, and demonstrates plans for future growth and commitment to the community.

Upsurge Award – Awarded to an entrepreneur who has built a solid foundation for her business and is now experiencing rapid growth.

Celebration of Achievement Award – Awarded to an exceptional entrepreneur who has achieved recognizable success and acts as a role model in business.

VIEW NOMINEE LIST

Next Steps

Edmonton’s nominee reception will take place ON June 23rd and Calgary’s reception will take place ON June 28th. Finalists will be named prior to the awards celebration in September, at which AWE will announce the recipients.

Quotes

“Congratulations to all nominees! We are excited to celebrate the incredible contributions made by women in our province as you build a better economy and communities. Each year, our award nominees are inspiring examples of leadership and innovation in Alberta. Thank you for taking the risk to pursue your aspirations and inspiring others along your journey.”

- Marcela Mandeville, CEO, Alberta Women Entrepreneurs

“ATB Financial is thrilled to celebrate the achievements of women in business. Your dedication to your goals and commitment to your dream has played a significant role in bringing resilience and transformation to Alberta's economy. Your passion inspires others and paves the way for future generations of women business owners and leaders. We congratulate all the nominees and wish you continued success!”

- Nikki Briggs, Head of Women in Business, ATB Financial

Quick Facts

Since 2012, the annual AWE Awards have recognized more than 800 women entrepreneurs in Alberta.

Over the last 26 years, AWE has worked with thousands of entrepreneurs through access to capital, connections and capacity.

Alberta small businesses contribute more GDP per capita than small businesses anywhere else in the country. In addition to providing jobs, these small businesses inject about $100 billion a year into the Alberta economy.

Special thanks to our presenting sponsor, ATB.        
- Amanda Muskego
How to Create a More Inclusive Workplace

The way you choose to communicate with your customer base is just one half of the coin. The tone that you set with your team behind the scenes is just as important to your success. Not only will an inclusive workplace create an environment where your employees feel comfortable and welcome, but research shows that organizations who make it a priority are more innovative and successful than their counterparts.

Having a diverse workforce includes hiring individuals with different backgrounds, ethnicities, neurodiversity, disabilities, and gender identities, creating a rich pool of life experiences to draw on. To be inclusive, there needs to be an emphasis on truly understanding the diversity of your employees and intentionally constructing a space where they feel like they belong and can thrive.

Recognize your bias

The first step towards creating a business that it equitable for every staff member is to take the time to educate yourself about your own biases. Even those of us with the best of intentions can be disregarding the needs of others due to a lack of awareness. Admitting what your blind spots are and identifying places where you need to do more learning is the first step to being someone your staff can count on.   

Create a safe space for employees

To create a truly inclusive space, team members should feel comfortable being vulnerable about their needs or pointing out places where there can be improvements. Frequently communicate and model the idea that everyone’s opinion is valued, and make sure there are a variety of avenues for individuals to express themselves and be heard, whether in a group setting, one-on-one, or anonymously.

Commit to constant learning

Being committed to inclusivity is not a one-and-done approach. Like other aspects of your business, it should continuously evolve and change as you learn more. No one is going to be able to get everything right all the time but developing a culture that is focused on growing together will move your team in the right direction. Consider how to have ongoing conversations with your staff and customers about your goals and look for opportunities to attend workshops or lectures that will further your knowledge on the topic.

Set goals and measure progress

At the end of the day, it can do more harm than good to say you’re going to work on inclusivity and then drop the ball when it comes to making real change. That’s why it’s key to set clear goals about what inclusivity is going to look like in your business and how you’re going to measure success. Be open to getting feedback from your employees on what is working well and what still needs improvement.

As you start to consider the many elements of an inclusive workspace and what is most important to your team, here are a few topics to keep in mind:

·         What language do you use in team meetings, on social media, on signage, and informally with your staff and customers? Think about the ways that your language may unintentionally be excluding or offending different groups of people. 

·         What holidays does your business observe and compensate staff for? Talk to your team members about what holidays they celebrate that may be different from you and consider what your vacation pay practices are.

·         What resources are available to your staff to support their individual needs? Who can they turn to if they aren’t getting the support they need? It’s hard to know all the barriers people face from first glance. Instead, have easily accessible information and resources that cover a range of needs and add to the list as necessary.

Though it may seem overwhelming at first, having an inclusive workplace will ultimately benefit everyone involved. When a team feels connected and appreciated, that transfers into a healthier space for them and better service for your customers.

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- Amanda Muskego
Alberta Women Entrepreneurs to receive $3 million in funding to provide more access to capital for women business owners

Alberta Women’s Entrepreneurs has received $3 million in grant funding through the Women’s Economic Recovery - Capital Growth Initiative. The Capital Growth Initiative is part of Alberta’s Recovery Plan, and an additional loan fund is now available to support women entrepreneurs who need easier access to capital. This investment will support more women who want to expand or start a business, helping diversify Alberta’s economy and creating new job opportunities throughout the province.

Alberta Women Entrepreneurs and Community Futures Network of Alberta will administer the loans from the Women’s Economic Recovery - Capital Growth Initiative.  Under the initiative, Alberta Women Entrepreneurs will provide capital to women in Edmonton, Calgary, St. Albert, Fort Saskatchewan and Sherwood Park, while Community Futures will provide capital to rural communities in Alberta. Under the initiative, up to $75,000 will be made available in repayable loans.

“Research proves that women entrepreneurs drive more than economic growth when their enterprises are successful – they change communities. Women were also disproportionately economically impacted by the pandemic. Access to capital for business investment for women entrepreneurs is essential to rebuilding Alberta's economy.”  - Marcela Mandeville, CEO of Alberta Women Entrepreneurs

“Alberta’s economy has momentum and we want to keep it going. By ensuring that women entrepreneurs in our province have more access to capital to help grow their business, we are building for the future. This is an important opportunity to create more jobs and a stronger business environment.” - Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation

Left to right: Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Jobs, Economy, and Innovation, Phyllis Maki, Executive Director at Community Futures Network of Alberta, Marcela Mandeville, CEO at Alberta Women Entrepreneurs, Whitney Issik, Associate Minister of Status of Women, Anna Liska, Owner at Always Occasions, Jewel Buksa, Board Chair at Alberta Women Entrepreneurs

About Alberta Women Entrepreneurs

Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to enabling women to build successful businesses. AWE provides unique programs and services to women entrepreneurs through access to capital and connections, and support with building business capacity.

About Community Futures Network

Community Futures Network of Alberta has a rural focus and has helped rural Albertans launch, grow and scale their businesses. With 27 regional offices located throughout Alberta, Community Futures has significant reach into every corner of the province, including with First Nations, Métis Settlements, and Indigenous communities.

For more information:

Catherine Larose,

Marketing Lead, Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE)

587 635 4278 ext.4278

catherine.larose@awebusiness.com

- Amanda Muskego
6 Elements to Building an Effective Communication Strategy During a Crisis

As a business owner many people will look to you as a leader during difficult situations. Customers and staff alike will look for direction on how your business is going to operate going forward and how they will fit into that picture. There are a few key things to keep in mind when creating a communication strategy that will help keep the conversations going in the right direction.

When communicating with customers:

Create Trust

During a crisis it’s important more than ever to be a reliable space for your customers. Once your business has decided on a strategy, make sure that your messaging is consistent. All communication channels and staff members should be saying the same thing. Defer to trusted, credible sources of information and let your customers know how those sources influence your decision-making.

Be Timely

The elements of your business could change rapidly as a crisis evolves, so it’s critical that there is a plan in place to update customers in a timely manner. Changes to business hours, products, and delivery can have an impact on when and how customers interact with you, and these factors should be updated through the appropriate channels as soon as they’re known while still acknowledging that information may change over time.

Build Community

In times of uncertainty the relationship that you have built with your customers can be a source of comfort for both you and them. As much as possible try to focus on messages of solidarity and forward-thinking to create resilience in your partnership. Invite your customers to think about what their future experiences with your business will feel like and how it can benefit them in times of hardship.

In addition to any online communication channels, it’s important to consider what practical, physical signage you may need to incorporate. Provincial and federal health websites provide free posters that can be downloaded and placed around your business. Some useful signs include:

·         PPE reminders (masks, hand sanitizer, gloves, etc.)

·         Physical distancing

·         Business hours or an open sign (especially important in cases where the public may not expect you to be open or when hours are changing rapidly)

When communicating with staff members:

Be Transparent

There will inevitably be a few unknowns as you move through a crisis. Don’t be afraid to let your staff know what is uncertain or still being decided on. When decisions are being made, make a point of explaining why and what the implications will be for everyone involved.

Have Empathy

Good leaders should recognize that disasters are, of course, periods of stress and anxiety, and that will be no different for your staff members. It’s important to express understanding and gratitude as individuals continue to work through these periods of hardship. Emphasize what steps you are taking to prioritize and protect your team as their leader.

Allow for Autonomy

Where possible, make sure that communication with your employees is an open dialogue and they have opportunities to be heard and involved. Give them specific tasks to do and then show confidence in their abilities to carry out those tasks. Allowing them to make their own choices within a set of guidelines will help them feel like they have control while contributing to a greater purpose.  

Choosing the right communication style and medium is not always the easiest process, especially during times of stress, but when done right, it can build an even better connection amongst your team and customer base.

If you keep these 6 elements in mind while building your communications strategy, you will surely be able to effectively navigate through any difficult situation and keep the conversations going in the right direction.

- Amanda Muskego
Nasim Morawej shares her experience as a member of the AWE Board of Directors
Nasim Morawej, wearing red shirt and smiling with arms crossed

Nasim Morawej

Nasim Morawej first heard about Alberta Women Entrepreneurs after starting her engineering firm, Sentient Tools, in 2017. When positions opened up on the Board of Directors at Alberta Women Entrepreneurs shortly after, she decided it would be a good opportunity. That choice allowed her to navigate entrepreneurship while helping shape the future of it for women in Alberta.

Nasim’s curiosity and vision have made her an invaluable leader in creating a lasting impact on the community, and she emphasized how symbiotic the position has been for her. AWE encourages board members to participate in the various programs and seminars offered, and over her tenure, Nasim has taken the time to attend many of them, something she says has helped her develop a deeper understanding of the entrepreneurial space, and kept her inspired.

“It's a great opportunity because not only are you contributing and giving back to your community and you are also learning a lot. I have never seen any other board that is this organized and cares about the education of the board members this much.”

One of the most fulfilling aspects for Nasim has been the level of support she feels from the other board members. “That will be the most difficult part of stepping away from this, not to be a part of the group anymore,” she says. “It's been very difficult starting a new business and going through the pandemic. So it's been very inspiring to see all others who are very successful, talented people. The days when I just don't know if I can do this anymore, I pick up the phone and talk to other board members.”

After three years on the board contributing to both the recruitment and ownership linkage committees, Nasim is moving on to focus on a second business and her family. However, the relationships she’s created with AWE and her colleagues is something she plans to continue long into the future.

- Amanda Muskego
Understanding the Difference Between Financial Advice & Financial Support

Many entrepreneurs do not strike out on their own already having strong business acumen. Most are driven by passion and a desire to provide for their communities which can make financial management, a crucial part of being a business owner, a big challenge. When looking for help, how do you know when you need financial advice versus financial support?

It is likely that every entrepreneur will need both financial advice and financial support at some point in their journey.

Financial support is centered around obtaining the funds needed to start and operate a business. It can include loans, grants, and subsidies to help cover everyday costs.

It may be necessary to access financial support at various stages in your business such as covering start-up costs when launching your business, getting help when revenues aren’t enough to pay your expenses, or even getting help when one-time expenses unexpectedly come up, or in a crisis situation like the COVID pandemic. A business can also look at receiving financial support in order to expand its operations and reach new markets.

On the other hand, financial advice is focused on leveraging the resources you already have to your advantage and helping you decide when it is time to access financial support.

Financial advisors can offer support in a myriad of ways, including determining the best way to allocate capital, insight on risk management, and how to find opportunities. They may include research and case studies to help answer questions you have about moving your business forward in the best possible way.

Women entrepreneurs can experience unconscious bias when it comes to accessing capital which can result in being treated differently than their male counterparts.

Alberta Women Entrepreneurs recognizes this and offers both financial advice and financial support to women entrepreneurs to help start, grow and sustain their businesses. We provide loans of up to $150,000 to cover expenses including operating capital, equipment purchases, and advertising. If a loan doesn’t seem like the right fit for a business owner at that time, there are resources available to help find grants and other funding opportunities that may be a better fit.  

We also offer free one-on-one advising sessions for entrepreneurs needing advice, whether that’s to discuss the next steps for their business or access other resources. Advising can be done through the phone or online which allows women from both rural and urban areas to access this service.

Dealing with your business’ finances doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. Take advantage of the resources available and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. It’s beneficial to society as a whole that you and your business succeed and thrive.

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- Courtney Bettin
AWE supports women business owners through uncertain times
3 business women giving each other a high five

The COVID pandemic has reshaped nearly every aspect of our everyday lives. For business owners, the stress of a new normal has been compounded. The more intimate setting of a small business means that the impacts of hardship are apparent and often more personal.

“The pandemic has impacted small business tremendously,” says Jenifer Horvath, a Business Advisor with Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE). “The changes in shopping habits and the shift to online means that a lot of small businesses had to pivot really quickly. And that’s household income for these businesses. In many cases, they may not have been able to feed their families because they didn't have the income they needed.”

Throughout the pandemic the federal government offered CEBA, the Canada Emergency Business Account, which provided loans for small businesses across the country. However, many entrepreneurs were not able to take advantage of it because they utilized contractors, something that was not covered by CEBA.

Luckily, AWE was given the opportunity by PrairiesCan to provide relief funding through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund. This fund gave entrepreneurs greater flexibility in how the money can be used. As a result, the entrepreneurs were able to use the funds in a way that best suited their needs.

“There was also a chance to use the money for technology improvements,” says Amber Hall, a Financing Specialist with AWE. “We saw a lot of entrepreneurs of course taking advantage of that and some pivoting their business model to really get in there and try and still make sales.”

“I think for a lot of entrepreneurs, it's not just ‘if you build it, they will come’ anymore,” she says. “It's build it, work on it, and build it some more.”

In addition to monetary supports, AWE has been hard at work to create a network of support where entrepreneurs across the province can feel heard. They’ve connected  like-minded individuals who had a shared understanding of the challenges that entrepreneurs had faced over the past two years. These connections have been invaluable in maintaining resilience within the small business community.

“A lot of our demographic is women,” says Horvath. “They shoulder additional stresses in the majority of situations. When their kids were home from school, they were responsible for overseeing that while trying to run their businesses and dealing with the normal stress of the pandemic.”

Webinars have been a great way for entrepreneurs to access timely information and be able to ask questions in a group setting. AWE has offered topics such as government supports, upcoming regulations, and how to transition to a digital format.

For those who need a bit more personalized support, all of AWE’s advisors can be booked online for a free half-hour Zoom call or phone call where they give tailored advice and share any helpful resources. This allows women from both rural and urban settings to get the assistance they need as they continue to move their businesses forward. 

“I hope women entrepreneurs see AWE as a safe place to share what's going on, to feel heard, and to be given some resources and ideas to help them move forward,” says Horvath.

If you have further questions about AWE and any of its services, feel free to email info@awebusiness.com or check out their website at www.awebusiness.com.

- Courtney Bettin

Over the past 22 months Alberta Women Entrepreneurs has been hard at work facilitating the creation of an impact paper that will revolutionize the way that women entrepreneurs are supported in Alberta.

 Using a collective impact model, 68 organizations from across six regional areas of the province – Edmonton, Calgary, Grande Prairie, St. Paul, Medicine Hat, and Lethbridge – have come together to address some of the biggest challenges facing women entrepreneurs. This new strategic approach will create a more sustainable path forward to overcome these barriers. 

 “We want to foster inclusiveness and diversity for all women from all regions and all types of businesses,” says Bev Latter, program specialist with Alberta Women Entrepreneurs.

 After facilitating over 27 listening sessions with the partners, a steering committee helped create a strategic framework that identifies five core barriers to entrepreneurial success.  Each areas was guided by team leads, and these will drive the short-and long-term goals moving forward. They include:

 1.     Purposeful Connections led by Jennifer Pragnell, Scotiabank, Joanne Comessotti, Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), Anita Kemp, Women’s Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH)

2.     Gender-Based Bias Training led by Kari Morton, Business Link; Kathryn Hotte, Prospect Now

3.     Collective Return on Investment led by Heather Braid, MacEwan University, Keltie Gower, Edmonton Regional Innovation Network (ERIN)

4.     Utilization of Technology led by Bev Latter, AWE, and supported by Lan Tan, TEC Edmonton

5.     Financial Knowledge Empowerment led by Marie-Laure Polydore, Futurepreneur; Abdoulaye Barry, Action for Healthy Communities

 By bringing together entrepreneurial organizations who have similar objectives and moving from a fragmented approach to a collaborative approach where each region and group is represented, women entrepreneurs can have a space where they are supported to start, grow, and sustain their business no matter where they are in the province.

 And this is beneficial for more than just the entrepreneurs. Latter says that “from day one there was a significant response from partners to see this work move forward”.

 “The collaboration is really all about being mutually beneficial, but the relationship also involves this trust and commitment and then shared responsibility,” says Latter.

 Led by AWE, Alberta is the first province in Canada to launch a cohesive approach that will focus each organization’s unique skills and resources towards a common vision. The hope is that this work can serve as a roadmap of best practices for other communities and provinces who are looking to see greater impact through a more collaborative approach. Creating a shared vision and building commitment across the province and country about what supporting women entrepreneurs can look like, encourages better societal discussions and real action towards removing barriers.

 “We really need to do a lot more work in creating awareness and understanding support for women as a collective consciousness within our country,” says Latter. “We see the financial contributions that could be enabled by simply increasing the percentage of women who are growing their businesses. If we're going to be a globally competitive country, we need to support more women.”

 The AWE Strengthening Partnerships “Leveraging Economic Opportunities for Women in Alberta” Impact Paper was presented on February 1, 2022, with specific calls to action that will support the recommendations within the framework. But even though the paper has been two years in the making, it’s just the start of this provincewide partnership.

 “A dramatic and durable impact is only possible when you're in partnership working together,” says Latter. “That's what we've been hearing.” 

SP Impact Paper (full)
- AWE Marketing
The Journey to Digital Transformation, with Kathryn Joel
Kathryn Joel, Get Cooking

Kathryn Joel, Get Cooking

Kathryn Joel has been running her business, Get Cooking, for the past 10 years, but like so many other businesses, when COVID hit she had to consider how to move to an online format. Since her website was designed with an in-person event model in mind, there were a lot of hurdles for her small team to figure out.  

“We found that we were doing so much manually because of our switch to virtual,” says Joel. “It was a lot of man hours, a lot of work, and not great for our customer experience.”

After reading about the Bold Leadership program through the AWE newsletter, Joel decided to take advantage of the push towards online and signed up for the eight-week course. The Bold Leadership program aims to help entrepreneurs find ways to strategically rethink their businesses through a digital lens. This will look different for every business and can cover anything from new software implementation to automation to digital marketing.

“In the beginning I thought I was just looking for a CRM (customer relationship management software). Then as I kind of went through the course, I realized there was so much more that I could do that would help my business,” says Joel.

What Joel originally thought would be simple website remodification turned into a completely new site with the ability for customer accounts. Now, providing Zoom links, recipes, and after-class recordings is all done automatically, saving her and her team over 10 hours per week while streamlining the customer experience.

However, for Joel the biggest takeaway from the program has been the continued access to a team of advisors.

“The coaching has been huge,” says Joel. “I always say to people that I started a business doing something I'm good at and that I love, but I had no previous business skills per say. I think that's probably the case with a lot of entrepreneurs. So to have had people to lean on as I pivoted and made some big decisions about my business was huge.”

That sense of community is what Bold Leadership program lead Lindsay Vanstone says makes this program unique and a good fit for any kind of business. No matter whether a business is product based or service based, big or small, every entrepreneur will find tools that are helpful.

“People will come in with different levels of digital knowledge in their business, and we meet them where they're at,” says Vanstone. “We help reduce that feeling of being overwhelmed, reduce that feeling of being isolated. They're able to connect with other entrepreneurs in this cohort program, and they can talk about their issues and ideas together.”

Going forward, Joel still plans to develop a CRM to further improve the experience her clients experience online as well as implement better digital tools for her staff’s payroll and timekeeping. Eventually, she would also like to consider moving to a subscription model, something she has been discussing with her coach.

“I have in my mind all the time all of the things that I learned, the different processes that I can digitize and automate to free up my time more,” says Joel.

“I would recommend any small-business owner do this no matter how small or big their goals are in terms of digitizing. I think it will help open your eyes to the possibilities. Even if you're just sitting, participating, and listening, being exposed to ideas like that and options for your business is huge.”

- Catherine Larose
Creating Engaging Digital Content

When it comes to improving your business’s online presence, creating engaging digital content is a requirement for growth hacking and overall long-term success! The creation of online content opens the door for a broader reach to new and upcoming potential clients and audiences all while increasing your brand awareness with warmer leads. But, with all of the platforms, programs and online elements, which ones are worth spending your valuable and limited time on? Which will have the best return on that investment? Take a look at the most essential digital content outlets that the most successful businesses implement to guide you in choosing where you should invest your own time and money and start building your online presence!

Social Media Digital Content

Through the various social media platforms available, businesses have the exciting opportunity to share content and connect directly with targeted audiences that are interested in specific products or services with little financial investment. Before you can begin to create digital content for your social media pages, you need to first ensure you are on the correct platforms. And you don’t need to be on them all! A thorough look at your audience demographics, wants and needs, and online goals will help you identify which platforms are best to be present on.

But what types of digital content should you be sharing on your pages? A good rule to follow is that your content should be 80% engaging and organic content, and 20% sales-focused content. Not sure what types of things to share?

Consider posting:

●       Memes (tips, testimonials, business campaigns, etc.)

●       Relevant industry news

●       Product/service or company updates

●       Contests or giveaways

●       Blogs (yours and others)

●       Customer posts/images

●       Behind the scenes

●       Meet the team

●       Polls or questionnaires

Another way to further your online presence is by doing paid advertisements on social media. Almost all social media platforms offer advertising opportunities where you can create a sales image, select your audience demographics, and pay to appear on sidebars or platform feeds. Make sure to do a thorough analysis of your industry and competitors before investing too much here.

Blogging Digital Content

As identified on DemandMetric, “On average, companies with blogs produce +67% leads per month.” Something as simple as writing a blog once or twice a month (or more!) will drastically increase your likelihood of being found online. Want better blog success? The best blogs use search engine optimization (SEO) through the use of keywords and organic content that allows your business to be found by more users via Google searches. Improve the likelihood of your blogs being found by selecting a blog title that features trending keywords related to your industry. Is your title good enough? Use the Sharethrough or CoSchedule headline analyzer tools to assess your title!

Not sure what to write about? Remember, you are the expert on your business and industry! Create a list of popular questions your customer service team receives (or see what people are searching for on Answer The Public) and turn those topics into blogs.

Website Freebie – Lead Generation Digital Content

In order to advance your business’s lead generation and build a list of warm leads to grow with, offer something of value to your website visitors by providing them with a freebie! A freebie is a form of digital content created by you that provides an opportunity to collect emails from potential customers. The Freebie needs to be more than they would expect for free and may even be something you could charge for - it needs to be worth an email as currency and that price is high! Some freebie examples include:

●       E-book

●       Designed PDF (buying guide, information booklet, etc.)

●       Trial period of product

●       Educational webinar

●       Online course

The emails you collect from this freebie through a CRM plugin or contact form on your site will then be used to connect with those leads later on in your marketing funnels and content (ex. email drip campaign, newsletters, social media content, etc.).

 

Newsletter Digital Content

Once you have collected emails from your audiences, sending out a newsletter is a great way to stay in touch and at the top of your audience’s mind as you nurture them through a longer sales cycle. A newsletter offers a simple way to update your subscribers on what is happening in your business and remind them about your products/services. It is recommended that you send out a newsletter one or two times a month to keep them in the loop without feeling spammed.

 Your newsletters can include anything you want that is relevant to your business. Share testimonials, updates about business policies or services/products, promotions or sales, recent blogs, industry news, and other information that they should know about!

Invest in these essential digital content outlets and increase your ROI, boost your brand awareness, and expand your reach!

Want to dig deeper and learn more about effective content marketing? Join our free webinar “Content Marketing 101” on December 6. In this interactive workshop, explore how to blend strategy and storytelling to create content that helps drive revenue.

Register for Content Marketing 101

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- INFO
Celebrating Women's Entrepreneurship Day 2021

Today is a day of celebration, pride, gratitude, and optimism; today is International Women’s Entrepreneurship Day!

As an organization, our goal is to achieve parity for women entrepreneurs in Alberta and beyond. For more than twenty-five years, we have connected women with access to capital, training and workshops, business advising, and mentorship opportunities—supporting the entrepreneurial dreams of women in our communities.

Supporting women owned businesses is more than just a catch phrase. A 10% increase in women owned SMEs could have a $198 billion impact on annual Canadian GDP.[1] And globally, advancing women’s equality and opportunity could add $12 trillion to the global economy by 2025.[2] 

There is no doubt that our communities and economies are stronger when women are full participants in entrepreneurship. But why do organizations like AWE care so deeply about this cause?

Job Creation

Research shows that there is great diversity in the aspirations of women entrepreneurs, with an increasing number interested in pursuing high growth ventures. As opportunities for entrepreneurship increase, even more women-owned businesses will shift from start up phases, to growth or scaling phases. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s 2020/21 Women’s Entrepreneurship Report, 30.2% of women entrepreneurs surveyed planned to hire six or more employees in the next five years, a number that has increased since 2019. [3]

Accomplishing Economic & Social Objectives

It is believed that businesses led by women blend both economic and social objectives, meaning that women entrepreneurs, while striving for strong financial performance, make Alberta (and beyond) a better place. [4] In fact, one motivator for pursuing entrepreneurship that is frequently reported by women entrepreneurs is the opportunity to do meaningful work.

Diversity in Leadership Styles

Increasing gender diversity in entrepreneurship provides the opportunity to activate a much wider range of leadership styles to propel their businesses toward success. A study from KPMG outlines the importance of situational leadership, or the ability to adjust one’s leadership style with fluidity depending on the circumstances, that is frequently demonstrated by women in leadership positions.[5] To go even further, a critical driver of business success is employing diversity of thought in order to solve complex problems.

Access to Financial Freedom

Entrepreneurship provides a pathway to generate income that differs from traditional work environments. More specifically, many women are motivated to pursue entrepreneurship as it enables increased flexibility that is more conducive to needs like work-family balance, or the ability to work from home. For those unable to participate in traditional workplaces due to personal constraints, entrepreneurship can be an avenue for many to achieve financial independence through means that are more accessible to them.

Products & Services that Fill Key Marketplace Gaps

30% of women entrepreneurs in Alberta report innovation in a product/service or market.[6] Innovation, radical or modest, is a central facet of successful entrepreneurship. With gender diversity comes a variety of perspectives and the ability to see and solve problems that may have been previously overlooked.

See It, Be It

Representation is paramount for the advancement of women entrepreneurship. As more women build successful businesses, they pave the way for future entrepreneurs to recognize the vast realm of possibilities that exist while breaking down barriers to entrepreneurship. The more we lift each other up, the clearer it becomes that these achievements are attainable for all. Look no further than to the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH) See it. Be it. Database, featuring profiles of successful women entrepreneurs across Canada, for proof that “women need to see successful women entrepreneurs so they can dare become one.”

Gender Equality in Work = Gender Equality in Society

As stated in the McKinsey & Company report, The Power of Parity: Advancing Women’s Equality in Canada, “the former is not possible without the latter.” Encouraging more women to be entrepreneurs is one of many initiatives that can make Canada a global leader in gender equality. Namely, increasing “the ability of women to be equal players in labour markets—to find employment, be compensated fairly for it, gain the skills and opportunity to perform higher productivity jobs, and share work outside the market economy equitably.”

The above reasoning is only the tip of the iceberg. The benefits of achieving parity for women entrepreneurs are endless. This International Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, let us celebrate how far we have come, dream boldly of where we may go, and act fiercely in our resolutions to advance women entrepreneurship here and now. #choosewomen


- INFO
Client Feature: Adetoun Aiyeleye

Recently, AWE sat down with Adetoun (Abby) Aiyeleye, a longtime innovator, entrepreneur and Co-founder of Clavis Studio, an online design platform that simplifies the home design experience for professionals and design enthusiasts using immersive 3D technology. Through their interactive, immersive experience, the company is expanding market access for small businesses and creating opportunities for people who want simple, integrated and highly-effective tools to get their work done.

While Clavis Studio was founded quite recently, Abby’s entrepreneurial spirit was sparked much earlier in time.

“My introduction to entrepreneurship started 18 years ago on eBay. I was in University and I figured out that re-selling popular items was actually quite lucrative. 

From then on, I narrowed my focus on niche markets and one of them was an online lingerie store for well-endowed women, who would ordinarily struggle to find their sizes in the stores. With Clavis Studio, my co-founder and I got very interested in exploring and changing the design narrative based on shared experiences, and the rest is history!”

While Clavis serves as a medium through which designers can turn their concepts into reality, the same is true for Abby who gets to live out her creative vision and passion for interior decorating through the development of a cutting edge technological solution.

But, she also attributes her success to the presence of those consistently championing her and her business.

 “I have a great support system including my family, friends and mentors. My friends are always putting word out and referring people to Clavis and I approach my mentors for different types of support; Sandra Woitas always makes warm introductions, Ralph Young provides industry support, Victor Tanti has a wealth of knowledge and domain expertise to share and Ashif Mawji helps with strategic thinking and planning.”

In fact, one word in particular comes to mind when reflecting on her community. She describes “Wahkohtowin. It's a Cree word which denotes the interconnected nature of relationships, communities and natural systems. It resonates with me because I love to meet and connect people based on common interests, and I believe there's strength in interconnectedness.”

It’s also through community that Abby connected with AWE. First, through a referral from Business Link years ago. And more recently, she was reconnected again in 2021 when Allie Knull of ResumeFree mentioned AWE at an Accelerator event she attended. “Clavis Studio has raised seed financing from AWE,” she explains, “which is key to us achieving more market traction and expanded market access.”

In a few weeks, Clavis Studio will open up their platform to other professionals and aspiring designers to create their own beautiful spaces and collaborate with their clients all through a web app. “This will create a huge job impact and is quite timely as we all focus on economic recovery from the pandemic,” Abby adds.

When asked, “Who inspires you?” Abby replied,

“Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She inspires me because there is a conviction, drive and purpose to everything she does that I find very admirable.”

We would add that the same can be said about Abby. With her conviction, hunger for innovation and dedication to doing what she loves with fun and flair, she is an inspiration to women entrepreneurs everywhere.

- Wal van Lierop, Contributor
Mr. Powell, Drop The Sledgehammer And Start Innovating
Worldwide, we need affordable capital to develop technologies that address our climate crisis, and to meet the demand for housing, food & water as the world population grows. I’m calling on the Fed and all other central banks to drop Paul Volcker’s sledgehammer and explore innovative alternatives.
- Russell Flannery, Forbes Staff
Language Differences Hold Back U.S. Companies In Fast-Growing Asia: KPMG Economist
“Common language goes a long way in terms of facilitating business," KPMG senior economist Ken Kim told the Vermont Economic Conference
- Derek Baine, Contributor
Conservatives Pushing For Hearings Over DIRECTV Dropping Trump Favored NEWSMAX
With former President Donald Trump refusing to get back on Twitter and instead posting on his Truth Social account which has very little reach (4.87 million followers compared to 88 million on Twitter), many are wondering how he will get his message out for his upcoming third run at the presidenc...
- Katya Soldak, Forbes Staff
Friday, February 3. Russia’s War On Ukraine: Daily News And Information From Ukraine
Dispatches from Ukraine. Day 345.
- Sharon Edelson, Senior Contributor
Workers At Cleveland REI Store File For Union Election With The NLRB
The worker-led movement to unionize at the REI store in Beachwood, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, has been underway for more than a year, but workers cited the overwhelming response at REI’s SoHo flagship as the motivation they needed to move forward.
- Schuyler Moore, Contributor
Hollywood Accounting Rider
This article sets forth a short accounting rider, which is intended to counter all the common complaints of under-reporting participations owed by film companies.
- Nicholas Reimann, Forbes Staff
Elon Musk Found Not Liable In Trial Over Tesla Privatization Tweet
A San Francisco jury delivered a major win for the billionaire, who penned a 2018 tweet suggesting he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private.
- Jenae Barnes, Forbes Staff
Twitter Ends Its Free API: Here’s Who Will Be Affected
Twitter will start to charge for access to its data-rich API, the company announced on late Wednesday night.
- Travis Bean, Contributor
The 10 Best Movies Added To Netflix In February 2023
Here are the best new movies available on Netflix this month.
- Jacqueline Schneider, Senior Contributor
Fortune And Unrealistic Ideas Bring FTX Crypto Empire Downfall To Life In Documentary
Fortune and Unrealistic Ideas plan to collaborate on a documentary that seeks to find the truth behind the massive fallout of crypto empire, FTX.
- Nicholas Reimann, Forbes Staff
Where Is The Chinese Spy Balloon? Reports Say It Moved Over St. Louis Area
The Pentagon’s only comments on the balloon’s movements are that it’s heading “eastward,” and officials do not believe it poses a direct threat.
- David Axe, Forbes Staff
Good Gun, Thin Armor: The Ukrainian Army Is Getting Leopard 1 Tanks
Germany has pledged to Ukraine 88 Leopard 1A5 tanks. The 88 ex-German Leopard 1s, combined with another 20 tanks of the same model that Denmark plans to donate, could equip an entire Ukrainian tank brigade.
- Diane Brady, Forbes Staff
Should The U.S. Be Afraid Of A Chinese Balloon?
China calls it a weather balloon gone astray. The U.S. believes it's a spy balloon come to track us. China expert Gordon Chang calls it a trial balloon and a worrying sign.
- Tim Newcomb, Contributor
Performance Tennis Inspires New Lacoste Lifestyle Sneaker, The L003 Neo
Lacoste never strays far from tennis. The new L003 Neo shows that off.
- Sara Dorn, Forbes Staff
George Santos Reportedly Claimed To Be A Broadway Musical Producer: Here’s Everything The Embattled Congressman Has Lied About
Santos said he will run for re-election in 2024, despite growing calls for him to resign just days after he was sworn in for his first term.
‘Extremely Dangerous’ Frigid Weather Likely Will Break Records In Northeast—Here’s Where It Will Be Coldest
Areas in the Northeast could break cold temperature records this weekend as an “extremely dangerous” cold front moves through New York and New England, bringing temperatures into the single digits.
- Sara Dorn, Forbes Staff
Trump Faced Racketeering Probe For ‘Pattern Of Criminal Activity,’ Ex-Prosecutor Reportedly Writes In New Book
The book, “People vs. Donald Trump” is set to be released this month.
- Emily Washburn, Forbes Staff
America Less Confident In Police Than Ever Before: A Look At The Numbers
A new poll shows a decreased confidence in police training, the Washington Post reports.
- Conor Murray, Forbes Staff
The Biggest Super Bowl Halftime Show Music Sales Boosts—Including Shakira, Coldplay, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga And More
The Super Bowl halftime show can be an elusive marketing opportunity for artists looking to sell more albums.
With Crypto Crash, Will Sports Sponsorships Suffer In 2023?
With Crypto Crash, Will Sports Sponsorships Suffer In 2023?
- Zhengwei
Trendiest Short Hairstyles for Women

Short hairstyles for ladies attract attention for all the right reasons. A short haircut is unanticipated and reveals the facial elements of a lady as excellent compared to any other type of haircut. Short hair is generally light and gives you a standout look. The best thing is that there is a myriad of options you can choose from.

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Ladies get bored easily by rocking the same type of hairstyle for a long time, and the wide variety of short hairstyles allows them to rock various hairstyles whenever they want. In addition to having a long list to choose from, these hairstyles are low maintenance and, therefore, save time on routine maintenance every morning. Take a look at some styles we have for you here. 

1. Blonde Contrast Hairstyle

The superb contrast in this haircut makes it unique and gives it fantastic sophistication. This hairstyle resembles a pixie cut but with continuous sideburns and a beautiful finish.

2. Classic Short Black Bob

You will always hammer it right with this black bob. Including some beautiful waves to the fringe makes this style one of the mysterious looks for short hairstyles for ladies. When you match it with a shoulder-less top, you will surely be a show-stopper.

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3. Super Blonde Messy and Side Bangs

Gorgeous bleached blonde manes that every lady can achieve easily. It combines the three best hairstyles a lady can have; bob, blonde, and pixie. A little messiness, and you are all set for the beach or an evening dinner with your girlfriends.

4. Short Bob Haircut with Waves

When you observe this haircut from the back, you will know why the waves are the best for short haircuts.

5. Ombre Style With Messy Hair

 The ombre styles never go out of version, and that is for sure. In this haircut, the hair is styled messy with dark roots. 

6. Short Wavy Bob

Why not choose to include an additional layer to your wavy bob? A simple bun takes this hairstyle to a new higher level, and it is an excellent way to reduce weight from the bottom half of your head. 

7. Shaggy Style With A Bun

This hairstyle for women is beautiful. The hair is kept short and dyed dark platinum. In addition, a bun is added at the top for an excellent style. This is a combination of cuts that was excellently executed.

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8. Platinum Bob and A Top Bun

Most short hairstyles rely on color for an excellent style. The coloring of hair is currently gaining a lot of traction, and even men are opting for colors. When it comes to colors, the universal best shade is platinum, and the reason is apparent. This shade is sophisticated, and when you include dark roots, you make an appealing piece of art.

9. Classic Short Bob and Wing

This haircut has been there for quite a while, and we don’t see it going anywhere any soon like others in the past. My mum has rocked this haircut for as long as I can recall. Not because she didn’t like other styles but because this style is hard to leave once you try it.

10. Platinum and Magenta Combo Semi-Curled

Magenta and platinum give you an excellent color combination than you could imagine. It is one of the classic hairstyles for women that will make you stand out from the crowd. It is flashy and cute.

11. Street Style Hairstyle with Blonde Shade

The name at first might scare you, but when you wear it is when you actually understand the magic in this haircut for women. The blonde added in this cut does require a lot of explanation. You can rock it to a date, mall, or in the street, as the name suggests.

12. Silver Modern Blunt Bob

Of all hairstyles for women we have looked at so far, this probably is something familiar to you. It offers both worlds. It provides some length while remaining true to the short style’s philosophy. It is short and sweet. This trendy takes on standard bobs is a classic example of how bobs can transform your looks.

- Zhengwei
Get Inspired: Ideas for What To Do When You’re Bored at Home

Being stuck at home for an extended period of time can be quite a drag, especially if you’re not sure what to do with yourself. Luckily, there are a lot of ways to make your time alone much more enjoyable and even productive. Whether you’re looking for some inspiration on how to spend your free time or simply want to find something new and exciting, here are some ideas that will help you make the most out of your time when home alone.

Try Out the Best Online Slots Online

If you’re looking for a fun and exciting way to pass the time, then why not try out some online slots? Online slots are one of the most popular forms of gambling, and they offer players an easy and convenient way to win big. With so many different types of online slots available, it can be hard to know which ones are worth playing. To help you make your decision, here are some tips on how to find the best online slots: 

Read reviews. Before playing any slot game, it’s important to read reviews such as from this top recommended slot sites or from other players who have already tried the games out.  Look for bonuses. Many online casinos offer bonuses or promotions that can help increase your chances of winning big. Make sure to look for these offers before signing up with any casino site.  Try free versions first. If possible, try out free versions of the games before committing real money into them. This will allow you to get a feel for how each game works without risking any money in the process.  5 Easy DIY Projects That Will Help You Pass the Time Create a custom photo collage. Gather up all your favorite photos and create a unique wall art piece that will bring back fond memories every time you look at it.  Make your own jewelry. Whether it’s earrings, necklaces or bracelets, making jewelry is an enjoyable way to express yourself and show off your creativity.  Paint a canvas. Unleash your inner artist by painting something on canvas – be it abstract art or something more realistic like landscapes or portraits.  Build a terrarium garden. If you have green fingers, this is the perfect project for you. All you need is some soil, plants and rocks to create an indoor oasis in no time at all.  Upcycle old furniture pieces into something new and exciting. Take an old dresser or chair and give it a fresh coat of paint and add some decorative elements. Spoil Yourself With a Good Self-Care Routine

Taking care of yourself is essential for your physical and mental health. A good self-care routine should include activities that make you feel relaxed, energized, and fulfilled. You could for example treat your skin with natural products, or take a hot bath or shower to relax your muscles. It is also important to get enough restful sleep and nourish yourself with healthy and balanced meals. Taking time out of your day for self-care can help reduce stress levels and boost your overall wellbeing.

Cook Some Delicious New Food For Yourself

Trying out new recipes can be a great way to explore different flavors and ingredients. Start by finding a few recipes that you think sound interesting, then make sure you have all the necessary ingredients on hand. Once you’ve got everything ready, it’s time to start cooking. Read through the recipe carefully before beginning, so you know what steps to take and how long each step should take. As you cook, pay attention to the instructions and don’t be afraid to adjust things if needed – like adding more spices or adjusting the cooking time. When your dish is done, take a moment to appreciate your hard work and enjoy the delicious meal you created for yourself.

Try Yoga Or Another Type of Meditation

Yoga and meditation are great ways to relax, reduce stress, and improve your overall wellbeing. Yoga is a physical practice that combines postures, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques. It can help you become more aware of your body and mind while also improving strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination. Meditation is a mental practice that involves focusing on the present moment without judgment or attachment. It can help you cultivate inner peace by calming the mind and reducing stress levels. Both yoga and meditation can be practiced in many different forms such as guided meditations or mindfulness practices.

Go For A Walk And Enjoy The Outdoors

Going for a walk is one of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors. Not only does it provide you with an opportunity to get some fresh air and exercise, but it also allows you to take in all the beauty that nature has to offer. Whether you’re walking through a park, along a beach, or even just around your neighborhood, there are so many sights and sounds that can help lift your spirits. Plus, walking is an easy activity that anyone can do regardless of age or physical ability. So, grab your shoes and head out for a stroll!

- Zhengwei

If you are good with your hands and looking for a new career path then you may seriously want to consider becoming a plumber. Plumbers are always in demand, the work can be rewarding and you can even become your own boss. So, what are the main steps to take to become a plumber? This post will tell you all that you need to know to get your new career off the ground.

Qualifications

There are no official qualifications that you need to become a plumber, but vocational training and an apprenticeship will be the best way to develop the skills needed to find success. Technical universities and trade schools will be the best places to learn the skills needed and earn a certification that will help you to find work.

Skills

There are obviously hard skills that are needed to become a plumber, but you should not overlook the soft skills that are required in this role. Strong communication skills are essential in this role, so this may need to be an area that you work on if you feel that you are not a strong communicator. You also need to have a strong work ethic, be well organised, work well with others and have the willingness to continue learning and improving. Physical fitness is also important in this role as it can be demanding.

Tools

Of course, you need a range of high-quality tools to work as a plumber. These will be your livelihood and the items that you use each day, so it is important that you invest in quality items that you can rely on. This is why you should always buy from trusted brands and know how to maintain and safely store your tools. In addition to the basic hand tools like wrenches, hammers and saws, you will also require specialist equipment like a drain cleaner to provide a range of services to your customers. Additionally, you need to have high-quality PPE that will help you to work safely each day and avoid injury. 

Plumbing Business

Many people pursue this line of work so that they can start their own business and become their own boss. If you go down this path, it is important that you know how to launch and run a successful business. This will include market research, creating a business plan, registering the business, branding, bookkeeping and marketing. 

Those seeking a rewarding and potentially lucrative new career path should consider becoming a plumber. There is always demand for skilled plumbers and it is a role that could allow you to become your own boss. The above are a few of the main areas to focus on to develop the skills and knowledge required to get started in this field and start making money as a plumber. 

- Zhengwei
5 WFH Essentials That Last Through Any Season

Remote work enabled people to continue working and contributing to their organizations, even if they could not be physically present in an office. It also led to the rise of various technologies, such as video conferencing, online collaboration tools, and cloud-based software solutions, that made organizations rethink how people work.

Though the pandemic is slowly ceasing, the awareness it raised regarding the digital infrastructure and the need for businesses to be agile and adaptable remains. Many organizations that may not have previously considered remote work a viable option are now embracing it to stay afloat. 

This has further led people to set up their home offices to avoid distraction and ensure productivity. From desk lamps to ergonomic chairs, here are five work-from-home essentials you shouldn’t miss.

1. A Comfortable Chair 

A comfortable chair is your first and foremost investment when working from home. Most remote work involves sitting on a chair for long hours, attending meetings, drafting documents, or writing codes. Working from a chair that is not comfortable or supportive can lead to a variety of issues, such as back pain, stiff neck, and poor circulation. These issues can not only be uncomfortable, but they can also negatively impact productivity and focus.

Hence, you must invest in a good, adjustable chair that provides good lumbar support to help maintain proper spinal alignment. Features such as armrests and a swivel base can also help promote comfort and ergonomics

2. Blue Light Blocking Glasses

Blue light is emitted by devices like laptops, computer monitors, smartphones, etc. Excessive exposure to blue light, especially at night, is linked to various negative health effects, including sleep disorders, eye strain, and an increased risk of certain diseases. Hence, for people who work from home who spend long hours in front of a monitor, blue light-blocking or eye strain reducing eyeglasses can be a big help. 

These days, glasses online can easily be personalized to include filters for blue light as well as to UV rays and other irritating or harmful environmental factors to one’s eye health.  Blue light-blocking glasses are designed to filter out blue light from digital screens and other sources of artificial light. Hence, such glasses can help reduce eye strain and fatigue and may also improve sleep quality.

3. A Desk With Plenty of Space to Spread Out Your Work

A desk with plenty of space to spread out your work is essential when working from home for a number of reasons. To begin with, it allows you to have a dedicated and organized workspace separate from other areas of your home. This helps reduce distractions and improve focus, as you are not constantly surrounded by other household activities or clutter.

In addition, having ample space on your desk allows you to keep all of your work-related materials and tools within easy reach, which can help to improve efficiency and productivity. For example, if you have a lot of papers or documents that you need to refer to regularly, having a large desk surface will allow you to keep them organized and easily accessible.

Additionally, a desk with plenty of space can be more comfortable to work at, as it allows you to adjust your chair and monitor to the optimal height and position for your body. This can help prevent strain on your neck, back, and eyes and reduce the risk of ergonomic injuries.

4. A Good Lamp to Provide Ample Light

A good lamp helps reduce eye strain and fatigue, a common issue suffered by people who work on a computer for long periods of time. Adequate lighting helps improve focus and productivity, as it lets you see your work more clearly. 

Furthermore, a good lamp helps create a more comfortable and inviting workspace. Poor lighting can be harsh, distracting, and unpleasant. In contrast, a lamp with a warm, soft light can help to create a more pleasant and relaxing atmosphere, which can be especially important when working from home for long hours.

5. Earplugs and Headphones to Help With Focus

You may be more likely to encounter interruptions and distractions from household activities, pets, or other sources when working from home. Earplugs and headphones help reduce distractions and outside noise, particularly if you live in a noisy area or have loud neighbors. 

By blocking out some of the external noise, earplugs can help you to focus on your work and reduce the risk of distractions. Headphones can also be useful for listening to music or other audio while you work, as this can help to create a more enjoyable and relaxing atmosphere.

The Right WFH Essentials 

Working from home can be a convenient and flexible way to get things done, but it can also present its own set of challenges. However, with the right tools and equipment, you can create a comfortable and efficient workspace that will help you stay focused and productive and succeed in your work-from-home endeavors.

- Zhengwei
Cowboy Fashion: Get Ready for the Countryside with These Iconic Aussie Brands

Are you tired from the hectic and demanding city life and looking for a tranquil getaway in the country? Whether you enjoy long treks or horse riding, a breath of fresh rural air will leave you feeling energised and prepared to return to your hectic routine.

So what should you pack? Without a doubt, you need to look good. But you should also be dressed in a way that enables you to move around the beautiful but challenging surroundings safely and comfortably. After all, the countryside is very different from the city. And the following Australian-owned brands have just the pieces to ensure you look good and feel good.

Get the Country Look with Thomas Cook

Are you worried that you’ll look like having a costume on your countryside trip? Then Tomas Cook is just the brand for you. Thomas Cook clothing is available to assist you if you wish to rock western fashion in a contemporary manner without appearing to be a young John Wayne. The apparel this company makes is very different from the ornately decorated western clothing of the past.

Cook’s clothing adds just the perfect dose of Western flair. It is country-inspired but elegant. Whether riding a horse, working with cattle, visiting the Outback, or running errands in the city, Thomas Cook’s clothing and footwear will help you look your best.

Whatever your needs are, you can easily shop Thomas Cook apparel online thanks to the brand’s network of distributors. The wide selection of lightweight, breathable tops and bottoms will keep you cool and comfortable under the scorching Australian weather for activities in the summer. Additionally, there’s a range of windproof and waterproof outer layers to keep you warm as the temperatures drop.

Then there’s the denim range. You can wear denim in various ways, making it a country-western staple appropriate for every occasion. If it’s a formal occasion, choose dark denim that falls freely down your legs and has discreet stitching, like the Tailored Fit Ashley Denim Jeans in deep blue. This pair can be effortlessly dressed up with a stylish button-up and a jacket or worn down for everyday use with a t-shi